Jerusalem's Old City and the Temple Mount.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Manipulation of history to achieve political goals is a common practice. Turks denied the Armenian genocide in order to construct an idyllic nationalist narrative and allay Armenian separatism. Japanese whitewashed the atrocities of imperial Japan before and during World War II in school textbooks in order to present a more pacifist face of their national identity.
And Palestinians, aided by a number of Arab and Muslim nations and their anti-Zionist fellow travelers, systematically deny Jewish ties to the Land of Israel in order to construct their own national narrative that leaves the Jews out of the story.
As part of this ongoing campaign of historical negationism, a group of Arab countries working in the name of the Palestinians is calling on a United Nations cultural institution to erase Jewish history from Jerusalem. On Wednesday, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates are slated to present a six-page draft resolution to the UNESCO Executive Board that calls to rename the Western Wall – the Kotel in Hebrew – as the Buraq Plaza.
In the Palestinian narrative, put forward by the Palestinian Authority in its official media outlets, in textbooks used in PA schools and in speeches and sermons by politicians and officials employed by the PA , the Jewish people’s ties to the Land of Israel are systematically erased, ignored and denied. Rachel’s Tomb is presented as the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque, the Kotel is described simply as Al-Buraq Wall, supposedly the place where Muhammad’s winged horse al-Buraq was tied after his night-flight from Mecca.
But it was not always this way. Back in 1925, the Supreme Muslim Council, in a booklet published in English for tourists visiting the Temple Mount, stated, “The fact that Haram el-Sharif stands where in the past Solomon’s temple stood is unimpeachable. This is also the place where, according to tradition, David built an altar to God.”
In the wake of the 1929 Palestinian pogroms orchestrated against the Jews living in Palestine by the rabid Jew-hater and admirer of Nazism Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, Palestinians changed their narrative. Jewish ties to the Temple Mount were written out of Palestinian history.
Attempts to deny or obscure the Jews’ deep historical and religious ties to the Land of Israel can be found elsewhere as well. In a recent New York Times
article titled, “Historical certainty proves elusive at Jerusalem’s holiest place,” the writer made the ridiculous and attention-grabbing claim that there was controversy among archeologists regarding whether the Temple ever existed where Jews say it did. The Times
later corrected the article to reflect the hardly newsworthy truth: The First and Second Temples stood on the Temple Mount; there is some dissent regarding the exact spot, with estimates deviating a few meters to left or to the right.
In his 2009 Cairo speech, US President Barack Obama, in a probably unintentional omission, ignored the Jews’ wondrous, unbroken and spiritual relationship to the Land of Israel that continued for nearly two millennia of exile, and focused instead on the Jews’ “tragic history” and the Holocaust as the causes for the creation of the State of Israel.
Intended or not, Obama’s words reinforced the lethal belief that Israel is an alien, transplanted construction and that Arabs and Palestinians are being forced to pay for the sins of European violence against Jews.
The perpetuation of this Palestinian narrative is worryingly ubiquitous. In his 2010 memoir Hitch 22
, the British- American journalist Christopher Hitchens approvingly quotes a metaphor suggested to him by Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg: A man (the Zionist Jew), to save himself, leaps from a burning building (anti-Semitic and Holocaust Europe) and lands on an innocent bystander (the Palestinians), squashing him.
In this telling, Jews’ arrival in the Land of Israel was purely chance, like a man jumping from a burning building who happens to land on a bystander. Zionist Jews’ rejection of Joseph Chamberlain’s Uganda Scheme is incomprehensible.
Their choice of Israel is unfathomable. Jews living in Israel know why they are here. Their ties to this land are unassailable, affirmed in archeological evidence and in historical works such as Josephus Flavius’s The Jewish War, in the Bible and in Muslim documents such as the Supreme Muslim Council’s English booklet dating from 1925. No amount of historical negationism and manipulation of the facts will erase Jews’ ties to the Land of Israel. No resolution by UNESCO will either.