The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has condemned the preliminary resolution passed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by a vote of 24 to six with 26 abstentions, denying Judaism and the Jewish people’s historic connection to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount and casting doubt on the link between Judaism and the Western Wall. (Notice it’s not called the Mosque Mount but of course named after the Jewish Temples which stood there – and where Jesus gave his “sermons on the Mount”).
It also denounced Israel as an “occupying power,” condemning it for a number of “aggressions and illegal measures” at the holy site, including alleged “storming of of Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces.” (The truth is that it is Jewish visitors who have been assaulted on Temple Mount by Muslims, not the reverse, and it was Muslims who violated the sanctity of the mosque to stockpile stones and other weapons to attack Jews, not “right-wing extremists and uniformed forces”). A final vote on the subject is due next week.
The UNESCO resolution was advanced by the Palestinians as well as the Arab states of Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Sudan. While acknowledging that Jerusalem is holy to the three monotheistic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism (in that, reverse chronological order), the resolution includes a special section dealing with the Temple Mount, which says the site is sacred only to Muslims and fails to mention that it is sacred to the Jews as well.
The resolution mentions neither the Hebrew term for the site –– Har HaBayit –– nor its English equivalent, the Temple Mount. The site is referred to only by its Muslim names –– Al-Aqsa Mosque and Haram al-Sharif. It refers to the Western Wall by the Muslim name, Buraq Plaza, placing the Jewish name merely in quotes. It also refers to Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs as the al-Ḥaram al-Ibrahimi, and Rachel’s Tomb, outside Bethlehem, as the Bilal ibn Rabaḥ Mosque.
UNESCO’s ignoring the Jewish names in favor of the Muslim names is particularly egregious and sinister in the case of the Western Wall and Rachel’s Tomb, as Muslim claims to each were first made only during the 1929 Arab attacks upon Jews across British-controlled Palestine in 1929. Until then, the Islamic tradition of Mohammed’s ascent to heaven on his steed, Buraq, was associated with the eastern and southern retaining walls of Temple Mount, not the Western Wall; while it was only in 1996 that the Muslim waqf in the Palestinian Authority began to refer to Rachel’s Tomb as the Bilal ibn Rabah mosque, a name previously unknown to history, as has been documented in scholarly detail by Nadav Shragai for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in his 2007 report, ‘The Palestinian Authority and the Jewish Holy Sites in the West Bank: Rachel’s Tomb as a Test Case.’
The six countries that voted against the resolution were the U.S., Britain, Germany, Holland, Lithuania and Estonia, while none of the other European countries voted in favor of it, thanks to Israeli diplomatic efforts across the Continent.
The resolution has been condemned by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who slammed it as “absurd theater,” adding, “To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China and that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids. With this absurd decision, UNESCO lost the little legitimization it had left. But I believe that the historical truth is stronger and the truth will win.”
Israeli Opposition Leader and Zionist Union Chairman, Isaac Herzog, also condemned the resolution, saying, “UNESCO betray their mission, and give a bad name to diplomacy and the international institutions. Whoever wants to rewrite history, to distort fact, and to completely invent the fantasy that the Western Wall and Temple Mount have no connection to the Jewish people, is telling a terrible lie that only serves to increase hatred” (Barak Ravid, ‘UNESCO Backs Motion Nullifying Jewish Ties to Temple Mount,’ Haaretz, October 13, 2016).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA condemns UNESCO’s erasure of the paramount and original Jewish identity and significance of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb, as well as its politicized attack on Israel, the only country in the region to properly protect the religious rights and freedom of worship of all religions under its jurisdiction.
“It would be hard to think of a historical and religious connection, like the millennial Jewish connection to Jerusalem and Temple Mount, that is older, stronger or better documented.
“Continual archaeological discoveries, of which last month’s discovery of a weight bearing the name of a Second Temple-era high priest is, but the most recent, that have been confirming still further the truth of this connection. These discoveries have proceeded despite efforts by the Muslim waqf to destroy archaeological evidence beneath the Temple Mount over the years.
“There is a reason that Temple Mount has been immemorially called by that name, rather than ‘Mosque Mount’ or some other name associated with the 7th century Muslim conquest of Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem possesses sites that are sacred to other faiths, yet there is simply no denying the fact that these sites became sacred to these faiths purely as a result of Jerusalem’s, especially the Temple Mount’s, prior Jewish sanctity.
“This resolution is nothing other than part of the Palestinian, Arab and, indeed, international campaign to delegitimize Israel’s existence, and to increase the likelihood of boycotts and sanctions, based on monstrous lies endorsed by resolutions of this type by international organizations.
“UNESCO should desist from enabling outright, proven Palestinian historical fabrications and lies about the Jewish and Muslim connections to parts of Israel. It should cease and desist from tabling pernicious and absurd, flat-earth resolutions like this one, which not only bring it into disgrace and disrepute, but help fuel anti-Israel terror and jihad.
After all, if Jerusalem has no connection to Jews and Israel, then Palestinian propaganda lies about the Jewish people’s lack of connection and rights to the land, deployed to utilize their recourse to terrorism and refusal make peace, are falsely validated.
“We call upon the Obama Administration to encourage European countries and all U.S. allies to convey their abstentions to a no vote so that this pernicious, anti-Semitic and anti-peace resolution is soundly defeated.”