How the United Nations is helping the Palestinians’ campaign of dejudaization of Jews’ holiest sites.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) executive board passed a resolution, entitled “Occupied Palestine,” which refers to Jerusalem’s holy sites only by their Islamic names. The resolution effectively denies the historical ties of the Jewish people to the Temple Mount, proving that this dysfunctional UN body is not grounded in any educational, scientific or cultural reality at all. UNESCO is being used by Islamists, who rammed through the admission of Palestine to UNESCO with full membership privileges in 2011, to wipe away Jewish history in Jerusalem with a stroke of the pen. The purpose is to delegitimize the Jewish state. This is no surprise, considering that Islamic states such as the holocaust-denying Islamic Republic of Iran, the ISIS-funding state of Qatar and the genocide committing state of Sudan sit on UNESCO’s Executive Board.
Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has had his own issues with Israel, could not abide by UNESCO’s re-writing of history. “The Secretary-General reaffirms the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions and stresses the importance of the religious and historical link of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian peoples to the holy site,” said a statement read by the UN Spokesperson on behalf of the Secretary General. “The Al Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit—or Temple Mount—whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism, a few steps away from the Saint Sepulcher church and the Mount of Olives, which is revered by Christians.”
A senior Obama administration official told the Jerusalem Post that the UNESCO resolution was “one-sided,” “unhelpful” and “highly politicized.” The U.S. did vote against the resolution, but President Obama still wants to restore American taxpayers’ funding of UNESCO, which had been cut off after UNESCO granted full membership to the so-called Palestinian “state.”
Palestinian leaders have been cynically attempting to re-write history to suit their false narrative for years. And UNESCO has aided and abetted the lies, even referring to the holiest site in Judaism, the Western Wall, as Al-Buraq Plaza “Western Wall Plaza.” UNESCO used the Arabic name rather than the Hebrew name, Hakotel Hama’arvi, “Kotel.”
Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, recently praised the UNESCO action on official Palestinian Authority TV:
“UNESCO’s resolution confirms what we think and believe in, that Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, and the Al-Buraq Wall (i.e., Western Wall) and the Al-Buraq [Wall] plaza are all purely Islamic and Palestinian assets and no one has the right to be our partner in that. No one has the right. We are the owners and we have the right to it. Only the Muslims have the right to the Al-Aqsa [Mosque] and the Al-Buraq [Wall] and the Al-Buraq [Wall] plaza which is purely Islamic waqf property… This is a message to Israel from us (i.e., the Palestinians) that we have the right and from all of the international community.”
The UNESCO resolution goes further than just propagating the Palestinian lies. Contrary to its supposed mission to encourage educational, scientific and cultural exploration for the truth, UNESCO’s resolution demands that Israel stop excavation efforts to unearth further archeological evidence of Jewish life in and around Jerusalem dating as far back as 1000 BCE. The Palestinians and their allies know that the best way to deny the existence of ancient Jewish roots in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Holy Land is to prevent their discovery in the first place. They also seek to debunk the validity of traces of Jewish history already unearthed with malicious falsehoods and acts of wanton destruction.
Indeed, Islamists know only how to destroy sites of significance to other faiths or defile them. When Jordan occupied the Old City illegally starting in 1948, the Jewish synagogues in the Old City were destroyed or used as hen houses and stables filled with manure. Jewish residents were forced to leave their homes. Jordan barred Jews from access to their holy sites or to the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. Grave sites were ransacked.
After Israel liberated Jerusalem’s Old City in 1967, the Jewish state did not seek revenge. It did not destroy or desecrate sites considered holy to Muslims. In fact, the Knesset passed the Safeguarding of the Holy Places Law, which states: “The holy places shall be safeguarded against desecration and any other harm, and from anything liable to impede freedom of access of members of religious denominations to the places sacred to them or to their feelings regarding those places.” The keys to the Temple Mount were handed over to the Muslim Waqf authorities of Jordan, whom Israel has continued to recognize as having special custodial responsibilities in administering the Muslim holy shrines in Jerusalem. However, Jordan irresponsibly ceded at least some of its authority to Palestinian officials, who proceeded to oversee the conversion of ancient Second Temple period underground structures into a mosque in 1996. They repeated with another Second Temple period underground structure converted to a mosque in 1997.
In short, while Israel has not turned any structures associated with Islamic history in Jerusalem into synagogues, the Palestinians have abused the custodial authority that Jordan delegated to them in the Old City by converting ancient structures associated with Jewish history into new mosques. Yet UNESCO sought fit to condemn only Israel’s carefully supervised scientific archeological exploration, maintenance work and new infrastructure projects such as a new cable car over Jerusalem’s Old City that would allow people of all faiths to more easily travel to holy sites that Islamists had chosen to desecrate during their occupation.
The UNESCO resolution speaks of “the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem,” as if they were inextricably linked. There is no distinctive cultural heritage of Palestine in Jerusalem. Palestinian Muslims share the same affinity to the Islamic holy site of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif that the estimated 1.6 billion Muslims around the world do. Contrary to the resolution’s falsehood that Israel is preventing Muslims from worshipping at Al Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram al-Sharif, Israel has shown remarkable self-restraint in keeping access open despite periodic provocations from Palestinians throwing stones at Jews worshipping below at the Western Wall.
The whole idea of an Israeli occupied “East Jerusalem” that supposedly belongs to the Palestinians is a revisionist construct. Historically, Jews have been living in Jerusalem continuously for more than three millennia. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any sovereign nation except of the Jewish people. In more recent times, Jews have constituted the largest single group of inhabitants in Jerusalem since at least the mid-1800s. Prior to the Jordanians’ illegal occupation, Jerusalem was an undivided city. Jerusalem is so again today, open to worshippers of all faiths. It is the Palestinians who seek to replicate Jordan’s temporary illegal occupation and division of Jerusalem and make it permanent, imposing an ethnic and religious cleansing of any Jewish residents in the Old City.
As Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon told the Security Council on October 19th, “UNESCO’s resolution which denies a connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, is an embarrassing stain on the pages of UN history. These attempts to cut us off from our homeland and our heritage will not succeed. We will remain in our land and in our capital of Jerusalem forever.”