July 11, 2017: UNESCO's move

That UNESCO sees Israel as its whipping boy is repugnant and ordinary. That the West still pretends the UN has value doesn’t bode well for democracy.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
UNESCO’s move
With regard to “Israel cuts funding to protest UNESCO decision on Hebron” (July 9), the Tomb of the Patriarchs is the burial site of the first Jews.
This surely defines it as a Jewish site.
Centuries later, Muhammad found refuge among the Jews of Medina when he was forced out of Mecca. He learned about their beliefs and stories, and adopted many of them as his own. Then he beheaded the men and boys, took the women as slaves and launched his jihad across the Middle East and the world. This might give Muslims a claim to the site. However, calling it “Palestinian” stretches all credulity.
The notion of a people called “the Palestinians” was invented in 1964 when the KGB and Egypt founded the PLO. The purpose of the PLO was to drive out the Jews. During the period of the British Mandate for Palestine, only Jews were called Palestinians.
Many of the Arabs of Palestine were recent immigrants from surrounding countries and identified themselves as Egyptians, Syrians, etc. At the UN partition talks, the Syrian ambassador said there was no such thing as Palestine. Ultimately, the UN defined an Arab Palestinian refugee as anyone who lived in the area for two years.
The United Nations is an unabashedly antisemitic organization, dominated by the demands of the 57-member Organization for Islamic Cooperation.
Israel, the only shining light in the Middle East, is the excuse for the violence and corruption that is the Islamic world.
That UNESCO sees Israel as its whipping boy is repugnant and ordinary. That the West still pretends the UN has value doesn’t bode well for democracy.
UNESCO has tried to obliterate history. What bothers me more, though, is the failure of Pope Francis and leaders of other Christian denominations to speak out against the usurpation of history. Only the Archbishop of Canterbury had the courage to say something.
The world thinks that only Jews are affected by the malevolence of UNESCO. This is not true. Everyone is affected by the Arab hatred of Judaism and Jews. All this talk about a peace process is ridiculous, if not the birthright of hatred.
Until there are Arabs who are educated about the world and the need for truth, there can never be peace. Only by giving voice to the critics of the Arab monopoly can there be hope.
UNESCO and the United Nations have has become a poor kind of farce.
I expect the next Arab demand of UNESCO – a demand supported by the enlightened Europeans – is to be deemed the original recipients of the Ten Commandments, which was obviously handed down to the “Palestinians” without all those troublesome do-nots.
Beitar Illit
Conflating issues
Barry Leff has it all wrong in claiming that the “occupation” and the Western Wall issues both reflect some kind of tyranny of the minority or an abuse of power (“The Western Wall and the occupation,” Comment & Features, July 9). Citing the United States as a “far superior” model of government, he calls for a constitution, presumably as a last resort to impose a solution he has achieved neither at the ballot box nor in the courts.
The ability of a small party to seemingly impose its views on the majority is the outcome of a democratic process. The majority could easily override the minority on both the Western Wall and “occupation” if it viewed these issues as negatively or as importantly as Leff.
That they have not simply illustrates that in the hierarchy of issues, these are not uppermost, which might come as a shock to those who don’t actually live here.
What a constitution has to do with our presence in Judea and Samaria, remains a mystery. As to the Western Wall, enacting a constitution is not itself a solution – it merely shifts to another forum the debate over issues that already exist and which are disposed of frequently in the legislature and the courts, with an outcome presumptively no more palatable to Leff than the status quo.
Barry Leff’s “epiphany” is clouded over with a deceptive identification of two different issues under his insidious use of a common label: abuse of power.
He conflates the issue of the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria with the issue of non-Orthodox rights at the Western Wall. In this he shows himself to be either willfully ignorant of the ongoing existential conflict between us and the Palestinians, or cynically clever in lumping together the varied challenges facing Israel in order to push his political agenda.
Moreover, to classify together the non-Orthodox with the Palestinians as “trampled minorities” is to misrepresent both.
The issue of the Wall is an internal challenge; the issue of Judea and Samaria an external one. In neither case, however, is there an abuse of power – there is a contest in the use of power, in the former by adversaries, in the latter by enemies.
The Western Wall issue is an element in the ongoing internal struggle among our people to define who we are religiously, culturally and socio-ethically.
The ultra-Orthodox get what they want on this and similar issues because the religious non-Orthodox are not powerful enough politically, and the secular majority of Israelis don’t care enough.
The issue of Judea and Samaria, on the other hand, has always been and continues to be a conflict in which we are fighting for our national Jewish legitimacy and security. In this fight, more and more Israelis are now convinced that Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is legitimate politically, strategically and morally.
Will a “pie-in-the-sky” American- type constitution solve Israel’s internal and external problems? It could help. Then again, America’s constitutional government showed no mercy toward the Indians. “Manifest destiny” was its justification for expansion and national growth, even if Texas, for example, was welcomed into the United States as a slave state.
Without a constitution and, granted, with a democracy that is imperfect, we participate in Israel’s painful struggle to establish itself as the national home of the Jewish people. One doesn’t need an epiphany to witness the glory of what has been achieved in our struggle.
One has to put things in perspective.
Israel’s marriage problem is actually the conversion problem. The Orthodox are afraid that lax standards will dilute the integrity of our lineage.
Lax standards will allow non-Jews to marry Jews and have children, thereby weakening the halachic requirements. If conversion criteria are standardized, the problem is solved.
Using halachic standards across will ensure that conversion is kosher. Such standards are not excessively difficult and should not be made more difficult by the haredim. Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis would have to meet these standards and follow them. Rabbis from these groups could then perform conversions and marriages.
A major obstacle is the obstinate Chief Rabbinate, which wants to control everything.
Power and money are the root of all evil. If these rabbis don’t cooperate in finding an equitable solution, they are part of the problem and should be fired.
Unlike what was stated in “Hebron ties and lies” (Editorial, July 10), Jacob’s request to be buried in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron is mentioned in the Book of Genesis.