Caroline Glick: Israel must go on offensive at UN
Over the past eight years of the Obama Administration, US condemnations of Israeli construction beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including in Jerusalem, have become steadily more obsessive.
This has been part of an unambiguous policy to delegitimize Israel in America. Until Obama entered the White House in 2009, there was a clear difference between the attitudes of Europe and the attitude of the United States towards us. Under Obama we have witnessed the Europeanization of American attitudes towards the State of Israel.
So far, Obama’s efforts have only been successful in the Democratic Party. Party activists have worked hand in hand with anti-Israel movements, most notably the BDS movement. In addition, several Democratic lawmakers have shown their willingness to abandon Israel, and that number is growing. Although they are still the minority in the party, Senator Tim Kaine, Democratic Candidate for President Hillary Clinton’s running mate, was the first senator to announce that he would boycott Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress about the Iran nuclear deal. He is also one of the lawmakers closest to Obama.
When Israel goes to confront the hostility, it should operate on two levels simultaneously. First, Israel must continue and increase its Hasbara to the American public. Netanyahu’s Facebook video protesting the international support for the Palestinian demand for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judea and Samaria is a good start. But we need to have even stronger messages protesting the moves by the US and the international community against us and to justify the “settlements.”
At the same time, Israel must act vigorously with the members of the UN Security Council, adopting a carrot-and-stick approach to oppose anti-Israel measures at the UN.
For a generation Israel’s governments have rejected the idea that we can succeed if we resist the UN. It is time that we abandon this defeatist attitude and work diligently to broker deals with member states to reduce the room for Obama and Clinton, if she is elected, to maneuver against us in the Security Council.
October 13, 2016, was a momentous day in world history: the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to rewrite millennia of Jewish history by denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, which is Judaism’s holiest site. As far as UNESCO is concerned, the site where once the Jewish temples stood – and where the Christian Bible situates important events in the life of Jesus – should rightly be known as the Muslim “Holy Site Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
The UNESCO resolution also renames what Jews call the Kotel, i.e., the Western Wall (of the Temple Mount) and the area in front of it, as Al-Buraq Plaza, while using scare quotes when mentioning the common English term “Western Wall Plaza.” Well, what are a few millennia of documented Jewish history compared with a Muslim legend about al-Buraq, “a tall, white beast, bigger than the donkey but smaller than the mule” with “long ears” and “two wings on his thighs”? Muslims believe that one night, this creature took their prophet Muhammad “to the farthest Mosque” – which of course couldn’t possibly have been located in Jerusalem during Muhammad’s lifetime (supposedly 570 – 632 CE). In reality, the Muslim claim to Jerusalem was simply established by force when Muslim troops conquered the city 636-637.
Perhaps the best reaction to the preposterous UNESCO resolution would be the kind of ridicule Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered on Twitter when they posted a few tweets and a short video with Bible texts “corrected” to conform to today’s UNESCO resolution. Given that UNESCO strongly condemns “the continuous storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif” by what they call “Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces” – i.e. Jews (and other non-Muslims) visiting the Temple Mount and the security forces necessary to protect them from violent Muslims – it’s perhaps particularly urgent to revise the famous story of Jesus chasing merchants from the Temple’s court yards and to understand that UNESCO would firmly denounce Jesus for his inexcusable “storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
The Bible – Revised by Unesco
Today UNESCO adopted a resolution denying the Jewish and Christian connection to Jerusalem.
Trying to imagine which Bible UNESCO has been reading…
Musbah Abu Sbeih is now the latest “hero” of many Palestinians and not only his family. He is being hailed as a “brave” man and a “hero” because he woke up in the morning, grabbed an M-16 assault rifle and set out on a mission to kill as many Jews as possible.
These calls have come not only from Hamas and Islamic Jihad extremists, but also from “moderate” leaders such as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.
“We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will reach Paradise and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah.” – Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian leader.
As holders of Israeli ID cards, they were even entitled to drive cars with Israeli plates, which is what Abu Sbeih took advantage of to carry out his attack in Jerusalem. His family owns at least two homes in the city and are considered middle-class. Still, this did not stop Abu Sbeih from setting out on his deadly mission. And it did not stop his family members from celebrating the attack.
This is the inevitable result — as in the Spanish Inquisition, the French Revolution, the Turkish Genocide of the Armenians, Rwanda, Darfur, or Nazi Germany — of the poisoning of a people.
Caroline Glick: From Yemen to Turtle Bay
Off the coast of Yemen and at the UN Security Council we are seeing the strategic endgame of Barack Obama’s administration. And it isn’t pretty.
Since Sunday, Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen have attacked US naval craft three times in the Bab al-Mandab, the narrow straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. The Bab al-Mandab controls maritime traffic in the Red Sea, and ultimately controls the Suez Canal.
Whether the Iranians directed these assaults or simply green-lighted them is really beside the point. The point is that these are Iranian strikes on the US. The Houthis would never have exposed themselves to US military retaliation if they hadn’t been ordered to do so by their Iranian overlords.
The question is why has Iran chosen to open up an assault on the US? The simple answer is that Iran has challenged US power at the mouth of the Red Sea because it believes that doing so advances its strategic aims in the region.
Iran’s game is clear enough. It wishes to replace the US as the regional hegemon, at the US’s expense.
Since Obama entered office nearly eight years ago, Iran’s record in advancing its aims has been one of uninterrupted success.
The vote at the UNESCO council was lopsided, with 24 nations supporting the resolution denying Jewish ties to the holiest sites in Judaism and supporting efforts to force Jews out of their capital and only six (the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Lithuania, and Estonia) opposed. But this time, a total of 26 countries abstained. Among the abstainers were France, Sweden, Slovenia, India, Argentina, and Togo, which had all previously announced their support for the smear. In all, ten nations that had voted for a similar resolution in the past abstained this time. Not a single European nation backed the Palestinians on this, the key symbolic plank in their effort to isolate the Jewish state and deny it legitimacy.
The shift to a majority opposing or abstaining on the Palestinian’s Jerusalem resolution reflects the growing success of Israeli diplomacy throughout the world. Efforts to isolate Israel in the Third World are finding increasing resistance in both Africa and Asia as many nations are realizing that supporting the Palestinians’ outrageous claims serves no purpose other than to make peace even less likely. Others are seeking closer ties to Israel—both openly and sometimes covertly—because they appreciate what the Jewish state has to offer in terms of security cooperation at a time when the threat from Islamist terror looms larger around the globe. They are also reading the signals from some of the most vicious enemies of Israel, such as Saudi Arabia, which have recently demonstrated that they fear Iran and look to the Jewish state as a potential ally. Though all continue to pay lip service to the Palestinian cause, backing their obsessive and pointless war against Israel does no one much good–least of all the Palestinian people, who continue to labor under the misrule of both Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.
But while Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel’s diplomats should be forgiven for expressing some satisfaction at the lower than expected vote total for this act of historical denial, the resolution’s passage is still a matter of deep concern. The manipulation of UNESCO by the Israel-haters is a warning to the world that the Palestinian goal isn’t really a fair-minded two-state resolution, which peace process advocates say is the only possible way to resolve the conflict. The Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic offensive on Jerusalem is a companion piece to their effort to gin up public opinion against Israel by promoting canards about Israel’s supposed plans to harm the Temple Mount mosques. That incitement has fueled the latest round of terrorist murders called the “stabbing intifada.” The point of this hate isn’t to build support for the independent Palestinian state they claim to want but rather to make clear their intent to deny Jewish rights and history and ultimately force Jews out of Jerusalem, if not the rest of the country.
The Palestinians may content themselves with resolutions that encourage them to believe they may achieve their goal of ridding Jerusalem of its Jewish majority. But this effort demonstrates that Palestinian opposition to coexistence and anti-Semitic incitement is a far bigger obstacle to peace than anything Israel has done. As the lower vote total at UNESCO shows, their problem is not just that Israel refuses to disappear. It is that much of the rest of the world is also beginning to understand their true goal.
The UNESCO resolution that casts doubt on the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is so untrue, so idiotic and baseless that one’s immediate reaction is to refer to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook’s response to the Shaw Commission when he was asked more than 80 years ago to prove Jewish ties to these sites. He told them that the truth was so clear and obvious that any evidence would only weaken it: “It is similar to one who raises a candle to increase the brightness of the sun’s light,” he said.
But UNESCO has been hiding the “sun’s light” for years, ignoring the terrible Muslim destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount, “Islamizing” Rachel’s Tomb and calling it a mosque, and shutting its eyes to the long list of archaeological finds from the Temple Mount area that drive the Muslims crazy for one central reason: They prove the ancient Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and its retaining walls. Especially the Western Wall. Jews have prayed at the foot of these walls for many generations and at the foot of the Western Wall, all 488 meters (1,600 feet) of it, for more than 1,000 years. The Jews even received Turkish decrees confirming their rights to the Western Wall.
Archaeologists recently recreated the Temple’s courtyard floors atop the mountain that King David purchased from Araunah the Jebusite for 50 shekels. But the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and its holy sites first and foremost relies on the Bible, “our mandate to the Land of Israel,” as our first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion put it. The connection appears in the Mishnah, the Gemarah and even the Quran, as well as in the writings of Muslim historians and, of course, in the writings of Roman historian Flavius Josephus and others. The time has come to renew the discussion of rights. The Muslims are speaking in this language. The time has come for us to return to speaking it as well.
To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids. With this absurd decision, UNESCO has lost the modicum of legitimacy it had left.
Votes of the UNESCO member states on resolution denying Judeo-Chrisitian history in Jerusalem
Votes of the UNESCO member states on resolution denying Judeo-Chrisitian history in Jerusalem
Following the preliminary adoption by the Executive Board of UNESCO of the resolution which ignores the ties of the Jewish people to its most holy sites – the Temple Mount and the Western Wall in Jerusalem – Prime Minister Netanyahu made the following statement at the beginning of the Bible study group at Prime Minister’s residence:
“The UNESCO theater of the absurd continues.
Today that organization adopted another delusional decision that states that the Jewish People have no connection to the Temple Mount or the Western Wall.
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.
Soon, UNESCO will decide that Emperor Titus engaged in Zionist propaganda.
To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China or that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids. With this absurd decision, UNESCO has lost the modicum of legitimacy it had left.
But I believe that historical truth is stronger and that truth will prevail. And today we are dealing with the truth.”
Israel will suspend its cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) following its resolution erasing the Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s holy sites, Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced Friday.
Bennett, who serves as president of Israel’s National Commission for UNESCO, said the organization, in its decision, was “giving a boost to terrorism” and denying history.
All meetings with UNESCO officials, participation in international forums and professional cooperation will be suspended until further notice, the statement said.
“Yesterday’s decision is a denial of history and gives a boost to terror,” Bennett said, adding that the resolution was a prize to jihadists and to “diplomatic terror,” which was particularly egregious in a week in which two Jews were murdered in a Jerusalem terror attack.
He added that such acquiescence to radical narratives should worry all of the Western world and not just Israel. “Whoever rewards jihadists… could be next,” he said.
Despite the outrageous denial of Jerusalem’s historic Jewish and Christian ties implied by the Palestinian-drafted Islamist resolution adopted today by UNESCO’s executive board—described by UN Watch here—the fact is that the Palestinians suffered a significant defeat in the international arena.
While every UNESCO member state that failed to firmly oppose the inflammatory text should be morally ashamed of itself, in the world of UN realpolitik a shift from a Yes vote to Abstain can speak volumes, causing major ripples in diplomatic relations with the affected countries. Every movement in voting is carefully tracked as an indication of political support and alliance.
France No Longer Leads Anti-Israel Camp: France’s decision to abstain today is a major shift in its singularly hostile stance UNESCO. Possibly because it’s based in Paris, French strategy at the UN agency for education, science and culture has been to appease the influential Arab, Islamic and Third World camps by distinguishing itself as a leading figure in the anti-Israel bloc. In 2011, for example, France took the lead in aggressively lobbying against the U.S. and Israel by urging UNESCO delegations to recognize “Palestine” as a member state, a catastrophic move that savaged UNESCO finances, programs and staff, as Washington followed through as mandated by U.S. law and cut millions in funding. In 2012, French voting was even more anti-Israel than the regimes of Assad’s Syria, Russia and Venezuela.
What does Paris get in return? Probably many things about which we will never know, but at least one was public. When French forces bombed Muslims in Mali, UNESCO actually gave President Francois Hollande a peace prize for his military action: “Having assessed the dangers and the repercussions of the situation on Africa, the Jury appreciated the solidarity shown by France to the peoples of Africa.”
What changed today apparently is that the outrage expressed by Israel and its supporters in wake of France’s April support for a rabid text—which included accusations that Israel was “planting fake Jewish graves”—prompted French leaders to express regret, thereby influencing today’s virage in foreign policy. If the shift crystallizes, Ramallah will have discovered the pitfalls of over-reaching.
Seven countries switch from support to abstention
Losing a vote 24-6 is a clear diplomat defeat; there is no other way to describe it. But when one takes a closer look at the outcome of Thursday’s vote, there is another side to the story, in which a silver lining of sorts emerges that was almost lost in the chorus of outrage. Compared to the April vote on the same matter, which similarly turned a blind eye to the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Thursday’s result marked a not-insignificant improvement, from an Israeli perspective.
Seven countries that just six months ago voted in favor of the resolution now abstained, among them heavyweights France and India.
After an Israeli outcry over the April vote, Paris had admitted that its yes vote was a mistake and so the French abstention was not really a surprise. But Israeli officials did not expect countries like India and Sweden to refuse backing the Palestinian draft, which was sponsored by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan. (The other countries which surprisingly changed from yes to abstention were Spain, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Guinea and Togo.)
While the number of countries voting against the draft remained low at six — the US, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia — this time around supporters of the resolution failed to garner an overall majority. In April, 33 states voted yes and 17 abstained. On Thursday for the first time more countries abstained than supported the text.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely was one of the few Israeli officials taking note of this relative achievement. “The fact that more states abstained than supported the resolution underscores the deep reservations of many states with regard to this shameful resolution,” she said.
What makes these numbers more noteworthy is the fact that Thursday’s draft included a reference to the “importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions.” The previous resolution contained no similar phrase; the Palestinians inserted it now hoping to maintain the support of countries which they feared would feel uncomfortable with a text that contained absolutely no nod to Jewish and Christian ties to the Holy City. Support for the resolution still dropped from 33 countries to 24.
The United Nations is infamous for subjecting Israel to “obsessive, unbalanced, and relentless criticism,” in the words of Susan Rice, President Obama’s U.N. ambassador for five years. As Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine once put it, the Jewish state is the “perennial punching bag” at the U.N., which “hold[s] Israel to a standard that’s different than other nations.”
Usually, this animus is cloaked in the garb of anti-Zionism. This morning, however, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) dispensed with all pretense and passed a blatantly anti-Semitic resolution erasing Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.
The Palestinian-drafted resolution, which passed 24-6 with 26 abstentions, claims that the site of the two Jewish Temples is sacred solely to Muslims. It refers to the area only by its Islamic names: Haram al-Sharif and Al-Aqsa Mosque (the shrine situated on the site). This is essentially the equivalent of passing a resolution airbrushing Muslim ties to Mecca, a move which would rightly be deemed Islamophobic. (Incidentally, in 1925, the Islamic Waqf overseeing the Temple Mount published a pamphlet stating that “the identity of the site with Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute.” Obviously, the Waqf did not anticipate the ingenuity of the United Nations.)
Unsurprisingly, the United States, Britain, Germany, Estonia, Lithuania, and the Netherlands voted against the resolution. Shamefully, the other three European countries on the UNESCO executive board—France, Sweden, and Spain—could only bring themselves to abstain in the face of textbook anti-Jewish bigotry. (They had each previously voted for a previous incarnation of the same resolution, before realizing how badly it reflected on their countries.)
Adding to the bitter irony of UNESCO’s anti-Jewish turn is the fact that yesterday was Yom Kippur. Predictably, the liturgy of Judaism’s holiest day makes repeated reference to Judaism’s holiest site. One of the most frequently cited verses in the day’s lengthy prayers is Isaiah 56:7, in which the prophet imagines an interfaith utopia on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount:
For years there has been a concerted effort by Palestinians and Muslim states to rewrite history and eradicate any Jewish connection to Judaism’s holiest sites. The latest attempt takes the form of a UNESCO draft resolution submitted by Arab states that essentially erases Judaism’s connection to the Temple Mount, calling it only by its Arab name. The resolution will be voted on next week, but is not expected to be challenged.
This follows closely on the heels of a similar Palestinian-Jordanian draft resolution to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in July 2016 that simiilarly called for a return of the Temple Mount to its alleged “historic” status quo before 1967, as if history starts and ends with the 19 years of Jordanian domination over the site when Jews were barred from visiting.
These resolutions are clearly based on falsehood and distortion. But UNESCO has a history of siding with anti-Israel forces: Just last April, it passed a very similar politically motivated resolution condemning Jewish visits to and policing of the Temple Mount, which it similarly referred to only by its Arab terms – al-Aksa Mosque/al-Haram al Sharif. While France, a member that voted for the April resolution, subsequently apologized for this, Palestinians and Muslims were encouraged to step up their campaign. This time around, however, members of the World Heritage Committee realized they would probably lack the votes to pass the contentious resolution at their annual meeting in Istanbul, and indefinitely delayed voting on it.
Media outlets reporting on such ahistorical, politically motivated actions should make sure to include the historical facts and implications of such moves.
Though she did not explicitly mention the resolution, Irina Bokova made her disapproval of the motion clear, saying that efforts to deny history and Jerusalem’s complex multi-faith character harm UNESCO.
“The heritage of Jerusalem is indivisible, and each of its communities has a right to the explicit recognition of their history and relationship with the city,” Bokova said in a statement.
Bokova noted that the “cultural and spiritual traditions” of all faiths in Jerusalem “build on texts and references, known by all, that are an intrinsic part of the identities and history of peoples.
“To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list,” she said. “When these divisions carry over into UNESCO, an organization dedicated to dialogue and peace, they prevent us from carrying out our mission.”
It was not immediately clear what steps, if any, Bokova intended to take in light of her statement. The resolution was approved Thursday at UNESCO’s committee stage. It must still be validated by the Executive Board of UNESCO when it meets early next week, but the wording is unlikely to change.
Fatah, the ruling party in the Palestinian Authority, welcomed on Thursday a UNESCO resolution which fails to acknowledge Jewish ties to the Temple Mount.
“This decision is an important victory for the Palestinian people, the protectors of al-Aqsa, and in terms of national defense,” a Palestinian spokesperson said.
A Fatah press release said that the importance of the decision lies in its content, specifically that it denies any historical connection between Jews and Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
The statement also stressed the important timing of the resolution, which comes “at a time of increased Judaization of Jerusalem and an increase in the number of infringements (by Jews) into al-Aqsa, along with the number of home demolitions.”
The Fatah statement also asserted that the resolution would never have passed had it not been for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s diplomatic skills—an apparent jab at rivals Hamas—and the help of both Arab nations and other countries all over the world.
The PA leadership then thanked the 24 countries that “supported the Palestinians,” and called on the six countries who voted against the initiative to reconsider their positions as they relate to “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian nation.”
A message from Abbas’s office to the US noted that “This decision (by UNESCO) highlights the need for the United States to re-examine its erroneous policies and stances which only encourage Israel to continue to occupy Palestinian lands.”
The Palestinians said Thursday they are sounding out members of the UN Security Council on a new resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlement building and on prospects for becoming a full member of the United Nations.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said that he met with about half the 15-member council in the last 10 days and expects to meet the rest in the next week. He said he will then report back to an Arab ministerial committee which will decide on next steps.
Mansour announced the new Palestinian initiatives ahead of an informal meeting of the UN Security Council Friday on “Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution.” It was organized by five non-permanent council members — Angola, Malaysia, Venezuela, Senegal and Egypt.
The scheduled speakers include representatives from two Israeli human rights groups, Peace Now and B’Tselem, and Americans for Peace Now.
Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon harshly criticized the expected participation of the Israeli organizations.
American Jewish groups on Thursday lambasted the United Nations’ cultural body for adopting a resolution that ignores Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, accusing the organization of rewriting history as a way of undermining the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
The UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) resolution — adopted in a 24 to 6 vote at the committee stage — used only Muslim names for the Jerusalem holy sites and was harshly critical of Israel for what it termed “provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity” of the area. The Executive Board of UNESCO is set to consider, and almost certainly approve, the resolution next week.
“To expunge the Jewish connection to Jerusalem is to deny the very cultural heritage of Jerusalem,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “This is not only unethical, but it contradicts the role of UNESCO to build intercultural understanding and protect cultural heritage.”
“Resolutions such as these poison the atmosphere and sow mistrust making steps toward reconciliation all the more difficult,” he charged.
“U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today released the following statement on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) vote on the resolution ‘Occupied Palestine’ regarding the identity of Jerusalem’s Old City:
‘Today, UNESCO doubled down on its reflexive anti-Israel bias by voting for yet another resolution that deliberately distorts history and denies the specific connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem going back thousands of years. It is unfortunate that the U.S. Mission to UNESCO could not do more to persuade our allies to oppose this disgraceful resolution, the real purpose of which is to undermine Jerusalem’s identity as the capital of the Jewish State. Congress must redouble its efforts to counter these pernicious attempts to falsely attack and delegitimize our close ally through international institutions by continuing to withhold funding from entities that participate in such activities, and reaffirm our commitment to stand unshakably with Israel.’…”
A bipartisan letter signed by 39 members of Congress criticized the resolution for “attempting to erase the Jewish and Christian connection to this sacred city” which would “further damage the prospects of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
As acknowledged by the draft text of Item 25, the Old City of Jerusalem is important to the three monotheistic religions. Numerous archaeological excavations have uncovered a myriad of antiquities that scientifically prove the historical connection of all three religions to Jerusalem, such as the discovery of the Pool of Siloam or the restoration of floor tiles of the Second Temple in the City of David. We celebrate the heritage and cultural ties of these religions to Jerusalem and the importance of Jerusalem to millions of people around the world.
Yet, this resolution seems to prioritize the Muslim heritage of the Old City, while diminishing the ties of either of the other religions. For example, the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, along with the Western Wall, where Jews from all over the world have come to pray, are described exclusively as Muslim holy sites and referred to only by their Muslim names. When the Western Wall is referenced, it is only with quotation marks, implying that the title is unofficial and not based on historic fact.
Brown University historian Michael Satlow wrote last year that the existence of a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount “is as historically certain a fact as one can get in the study of ancient history.” Jodi Magness, a professor of Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina, stated last year that “no credible scholars…question the existence of the two temples or who deny that they stood somewhere on the Temple Mount.”
Bokova postponed a vote on a similar resolution in July, saying that “to deny or conceal any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site.”
US Presidential nominee Donald Trump and a top adviser to Hillary Clinton both criticized the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations vote denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, Friday morning.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy adviser Laura Rosenberer condemned the resolution stating, “It’s Outrageous that UNESCO would deny the deep, historic connection between Judaism and the Temple Mount.”
“As Secretary of State, Hillary fought to defend Israel against biased resolutions like there at the United Nations and other international organizations and would proudly do so again as President.”
In a Facebook post Trump called the resolution “further evidence of the enormous anti-Israel bias of the UN.”
Trump also stated that should he win Jerusalem will be recognized as Israel’s capital by the United States.
He continued on to criticize President Barak Obama stating, “Further, the decision by the Obama Administration to strike the word ‘Israel’ after the word ‘Jerusalem’ in the President’s prepared text was a capitulation to Israel’s enemies, and a posthumous embarrassment to Shimon Peres, whose memory the President was attempting to honor.”
A series where I bring to you news from the newspaper archives and historical documents to debunk common misconceptions about the Middle East conflict.
With UNESCO’s latest deplorable decision the latest example of the world trying to erase the Jewish connection to our holiest sites, it bears reminding that there was a time this would have been unheard of.
Back in 1967, following our victory in the Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem, the newspapers of the day really captured the Jewish connection to the Old City, especially the Temple Mount and Western Wall.
For instance, this New York Times report from June 8th, 1967.
Note: I cannot provide a link to the full articles since they are only available to those who have purchased a subscription. But I have provided screenshots below. As usual, click on the screenshots to enlarge.
PreOccupiedTerritory: UNESCO Infuriates Palestinians By Calling Genocidal Ambitions ‘Syrian’ (satire)
On the heels of celebrating a decision by the United Nations Educational, Social, and Cultural Council (UNESCO) that ignored the ancient Jewish pedigree of the Temple Mount and its environs and accused Israel of impinging on the Muslim character of the site, Palestinians expressed outrage and shock at the body’s next move, which ignored Palestinian ambitions to wipe the land clean of Jews, and instead described genocidal policies as authentically and exclusively Syrian.
Palestinian officials and representatives went in a heartbeat from hailing UNESCO this afternoon to denouncing it, and called on the the Council’s secretariat to overturn the genocide decision as a distortion of culture, history, and national identity. Even more galling, they charged, was the implication that even the Palestinian desire to push the Jews of the Holy Land into the sea constitutes but a subset of a larger Syrian practice of wiping out distinct groups, as if Palestinians have not been working for decades to shed their identity as merely Southern Syrians.
“It’s embarrassing enough to be told time and again that the term ‘Palestinian’ never referred on its own to Arabs until the 1960’s – it meant ‘Jew,’” explained veteran Palestinian diplomat Aiwil Qildejous. “In one fell swoop, UNESCO erased years and years of public relations, diplomacy, political pressure, propaganda, and millions of man-hours of hard work to create the deception that there was such a thing as a distinct Arab Palestinian people before Israel came onto the scene. How dare the Council make such light of Palestinian genocidal desires, and the policies that reflect those desires, as if we are once again just Syrians!”
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