ZOA Philly President’s Article: UNESCO Lies About Jerusalem’s Holiness to Jews
May 2, 2016

For Jews, the Temple Mount (site of Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple is the holiest place on earth. The adjacent Kotel (the Western Wall) is the second holiest site to Jews. A recent decision by UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization), however, shamefully distorts, deletes and denies Jewish – and in effect Christian – history.

“Temple Denial” is the belief that no Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem.  This pernicious “lie” is perhaps the leading one designed to steal the history and identity of the Jewish people in order to justify eradicating them from the Middle East. For many years, Palestinian-Arab leaders have provocatively denied Jewish history both in ancient Judea/Israel and particularly in Jerusalem, and especially since Israel gained control over the Temple Mount in 1967. Under the direction of the Palestinian Authority and Jordan, they have systematically destroyed, discarded and intentionally removed priceless evidence and artifacts of Jewish presence – dumping tons of contents unceremoniously into pits.

Palestinian Authority religious and political leaders, officials, and even academics refer to the Temple as the “alleged Temple.”   Yet this “Big Lie” that the Temple never existed and the Jews have no history in the Land of Israel contradicts not only Jewish sources (Bible, Talmud, Psalms, prayers), Christian sources (which in essence would be a denial of Jesus’ existence), and the archaeological record, but also the Qu’ran itself.

It ignores and denies the age-old indigenous Jewish historic linkage of the area to Judaism, Jewish history and religion and ignores the existence of the remnants of Jewish holy sites.

In Surah 17:7, the Qu’ran mentions the “Children of Israel’s” two periods of independence in the land and the destruction of both the First and Second Temple: “…to enter the Temple even as they entered it for the first time, and to lay waste…”  Many prominent classical Islamic theological sources refer to the Jewish connection to the Temple. See also Surah 17:1, the “Farthest Mosque” which refers to the Temple.  (University of Southern California, Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement)

Interestingly, the Supreme Muslim Council – led by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husayni–  Hitler’s ally and one of the Arab world’s most vicious anti-Semites — which controlled the Temple Mount during the Palestine Mandate period, published yearly guide books referring to the al-Haram al-Sharif ( “the Noble Sanctuary”), in 1924, 1925, 1929, 1935 and 1950, all stating that its “identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to the universal belief, on which David built there an altar unto the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”

However, by 1954, the Muslim waqf, the religious authority that ruled the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa, inexplicably removed these references.

The League of Nations in 1930 issued its “Report of the Commission Appointed by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with the Approval of the Council of the League of Nations, to Determine the Rights and Claims of Muslims and Jews in Connection with the Western or Wailing Wall at Jerusalem, (Dec. 1930).”   If found therein: “It was Solomon who built the first Temple of Jerusalem, the grandeur and beauty of which have become widely renowned, thanks to the holy books and the historians. The Temple was situated on Mount Moriah on the platform, now known as the Harem-esh-Sherif area.” The League of Nations is the predecessor of the United Nations. It is at least plausibly arguable that its findings and determinations are legally binding on the U.N. 

But that is not how it works at the U.N. On April 11, 2016, the Executive Board of UNESCO –  an international body presumably dedicated to education, science and culture – adopted a resolution, proposed by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman and Sudan, entitled “Occupied Palestine.”

According to Ambassador Alan Baker, former Israeli ambassador to Canada and legal counselor to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, writing in the Jerusalem Post (April 20, 2016):

“The decision condemns all Israeli presence and activities in Jerusalem, Hebron, and the tomb of Rachel. In so doing it pointedly and deliberately denies, ignores, and seeks to delete from history, any historic, cultural and religious link between the Jewish People, the Jewish religion and Jerusalem, including specifically its holy religious site of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the Machpela Cave in Hebron, and Rachel’s tomb near Bethlehem.”

The decision refers to these Jewish holy sites solely in a context of “safeguarding the cultural heritage of Palestine,” to the complete exclusion of the cultural and historic heritage and rights of the Jewish People.

It ignores and denies the age-old indigenous Jewish historic linkage of the area to Judaism, Jewish history and religion and ignores the existence of the remnants of Jewish holy sites and the fact that this area is universally recognized by all as “Temple Mount”, attesting to the fact that this was indeed the site of the Jewish Temples, and as such, the cradle of all Jewish existence and history.

In this context, even the Western Wall plaza is referred to as “Al-Buraq Plaza.”

The age-old Jewish sites – the “Cave of Machpela” in Hebron, and “the Cave of Rachel” close to Bethlehem – universally acknowledged to be the burial sites of the forefathers of the Jewish People Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Rachel respectively, are denominated by this curious UNESCO decision as the “two Palestinian sites of Al-Haram Al Ibrahimi Tomb of the Patriarchs in Al-Khalil/Hebron and the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem”.

According to Ambassador Baker, 58 state-members of the UNESCO Executive Board supported this dreadful decision, including some “ostensible friends of Israel:” France, Spain, Sweden, Russia and Slovenia. Only six states voted against it – Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, the UK and the U.S.

The decision is an outrage. As with most things associated with the U.N., the original nice-sounding intent is admirable: “the 1945 Constitution of UNESCO sought to establish a body to combat ignorance, prejudice, suspicion, inequality and mistrust between peoples, and to advance dignity, equality, mutual respect and the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind,” according to Ambassador Baker.

The UNESCO website states:

Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.

UNESCO strives to build networks among nations that enable this kind of solidarity, by:

  • Mobilizing for education: so that every child, boy or girl, has access to quality education as a fundamental human right and as a prerequisite for human development.
  • Building intercultural understanding: through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity. UNESCO created the idea of World Heritage to protect sites of outstanding universal value.
  • Pursuing scientific cooperation: such as early warning systems for tsunamis or trans-boundary water management agreements, to strengthen ties between nations and societies.
  • Protecting freedom of expression: an essential condition for democracy, development and human dignity.

UNESCO is known as the “intellectual” agency of the United Nations. At a time when the world is looking for new ways to build peace and sustainable development, people must rely on the power of intelligence to innovate, expand their horizons and sustain the hope of a new humanism. UNESCO exists to bring this creative intelligence to life; for it is in the minds of men and women that the conditions for peace and sustainable development must be built.

This unashamed manipulation of an international body for the blatant purpose of negating the core, culture, history, and essence of the Jewish people and religion should be a no-brainer designation of discrimination contrary to the heart of everything that UNESCO and U.N. allegedly embody.

But the West, i.e. Judeo-Christian culture and Europe, has seemingly given up. The relationship between Islam and the West is understood by the dichotomy of the “will” and the “way.” The West has the way – including the military means and economic might – to neutralize Islam and multiculturalism. Yet, it doesn’t even have the will to preserve itself.  This is the sad lesson and expected outcome.

What can be done? At the minimum, the U.S. and Israel should withdraw from UNESCO and refuse funding any part of it. (The Obama Administration has sought to restore funding of UNESCO which Congress cut in 2011 when it accepted Palestine as a member state.) And, countries that supported this resolution, including France which seeks a role in Middle East “peace-making,” should be called on to renounce this decision and reverse it, or be denied any role in such “peace” efforts. It should be an affront to all honest nations, especially those with Judeo-Christian cultures, to allow this perfidy and lie to continue.

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