Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations Chaim Herzog observed that the UN had developed an Alice in Wonderland perspective on Israel. “In the UN building,” he said, “she [Alice] would only have to wear a Star of David in order to hear the imperious ‘Off with her head’ at every turn.’” The alternate universe in which the UN exists was on display again when the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to erase Jewish history from Jerusalem by declaring the Temple Mount holy only to Muslims. It further describes the sacred Jewish sites of the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem and Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs (revered as the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) as “two Palestinian sites.”
Not surprisingly, the effort to deny Judaism’s connection to its holy places was initiated by the Palestinian Authority under that moderate lover of peace, PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Sadly, even Arab countries also considered “moderate” – Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Oman and Qatar – joined Abbas in rewriting history.
US Ambassador Susan Rice has said the treatment Israel receives at the UN “is obsessive, ugly, bad for the United Nations and bad for peace.” UNESCO has proved this once again. To her credit, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova rebuked her own board shortly after the vote. “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,” Bokova correctly noted.
Of course, the countries voting for this heinous resolution are well aware of the history.
“In the Torah, Jerusalem is the capital of King David, where Solomon built the Temple and placed the Ark of the Covenant,” Bokova said. “In the Bible, Jerusalem is the city of the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the [Koran], Jerusalem [though never mentioned by name] is the third holiest site in Islam, where Muhammad arrived after his night journey from Al Haram Mosque (Mecca) to Al-Aksa.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justifiably excoriated the UN for the falsification of history.
“Even if they do not read the Bible, I would suggest that UNESCO members visit the Arch of Titus in Rome. The arch shows what the Romans brought back to Rome after they destroyed and looted the Second Temple on the Temple Mount 2,000 years ago. There, engraved on the Arch of Titus, is the seven-branched menorah that is the symbol of the Jewish People, and today is the symbol of the State of Israel.” The resolution was as absurd, he said, as saying that “China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids.”
Israel’s permanent delegate to UNESCO, Carmel Shama Hacohen, stated the facts for those members of the organization immune to the truth: “There is no connection of another people to another place in the world that comes close to the strength and depth of our connection to Jerusalem from a religious, historical and national perspective, a connection that has stood the test of 2,000 years.”
UNESCO not only rewrote Jewish history, it turned Christian history on its head as well. In UNESCO’s world Mathew 21:12 would read: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, Al Aksa Mosque/Al Haram al-Sharif, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the Aksa Mosque/Al Haram al-Sharif, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of them that sold doves.”
It is hard to find a silver lining in the UNESCO universe, but it was encouraging to see that more countries voted against (six) or abstained (26) than voted in favor of the resolution. The only countries that stood up for the truth were the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia.
UN Watch said the inflammatory text’s failure to obtain a majority was a moral victory. The amount of countries abstaining increased by seven from the 17 who supported a similar text in April, with France, India, Argentina, Spain, Sweden, Sri Lanka, Guinea and Togo shifting their votes from “yes” to “abstain.”
It was indeed a positive step in the context of the UN to see all the EU members abstain considering several regularly back anti-Israel measures. Still, by abstaining rather than voting against the resolution they showed a lack of backbone. Moreover, France forfeited its much desired role in the peace process by failing to stand up to the Palestinian assault on Israel’s legitimacy.
The UN just elected a new secretary-general, Portugal’s Antonio Guterres, and I would expect him to denounce this resolution and to take steps to reform UNESCO and other UN-related agencies, such as the Human Rights Council, so they perform the duties for which they were created rather than act as tools of the Palestinians and others seeking Israel’s destruction.
While US President Barack Obama was notably silent, the US Congress demonstrated its continuing bipartisan support for Israel when 39 Democratic and Republican lawmakers sent a letter initiated by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) to the UNESCO executive board urging it to reject the proposal.
UNESCO is just one example of the moral bankruptcy of the UN, which funds multiple agencies, at a cost of millions of dollars of US taxpayer money (we are by far the largest contributor to the UN budget), for the sole purpose of vilifying Israel and promoting a false narrative about the Palestinians. The US should denounce the politicization of UNESCO and Congress should cut US funding to the UN and send a message that America will not be complicit in the organization’s unceasing campaign to delegitimize Israel. Obama should call on our European allies to do the same.The author, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 31 books including his most recent, The Israel Warrior’s Handbook. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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