The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Executive Board sent an early Passover present to the Jewish people Friday, April 15: a resolution that acknowledges no Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, or, for good measure, the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb.
People who know nothing about the history of the Middle East — from typical American schoolchildren to anyone educated in schools operated by the Palestinian Authority — could be forgiven for thinking Israel has no more connection to Jerusalem than the United States has to the Galapagos Islands.
References to Israel in the UNESCO resolution are followed by “the occupying power,” and the Temple Mount is never mentioned. Instead, every reference to the holy site uses “Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif.”
UNESCO never calls that massive Herodian structure in the Old City the “Western Wall,” although it does use “Western Wall Plaza” twice as an alternative name for Al-Buraq Plaza. Even UNESCO has to admit that “Al-Buraq Plaza” is too obscure for most people to understand.
UNESCO made up for that bit of moderation by condemning Israel for driving the cycle of violence and allowing extremist aggression against Palestinians. Don’t bother looking for any mention of Israeli civilians slain by Arabs.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response: “This is yet another absurd U.N. decision. UNESCO ignores the unique historic connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount, where the two temples stood for a thousand years and to which every Jew in the world has prayed for thousands of years. The U.N. is rewriting a basic part of human history and has again proven that there is no low to which it will not stoop.”
If anything, Netanyahu didn’t go far enough.
The U.N. agency supposedly dedicated to historic and cultural preservation did more than wipe out thousands of years of Jewish history in portraying Israel strictly as an occupying power. It fed into Muslim paranoia and Palestinian lies about fake Jewish history and religious oppression — the same kind of conspiracy theories and propaganda that sparked the outbreak of Temple Mount rioting and lone-wolf terrorism around the High Holidays.
Israel already was reinforcing troops deployed around the Temple Mount in response to rising tensions with the approach of Passover. The UNESCO resolution, with its charges of Israeli incitement and limitations on Muslim worship (when, in fact, only Jews face a standing ban on Temple Mount worship), seems calculated to inspire further violence.
“Your decision only serves to extend this current wave of terror and will only lead to the deaths of more innocent people,” former Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, the head of the Yesh Atid party, wrote to UNESCO. “You cannot evade this responsibility.”
We expect no better from UNESCO, which, along with the U.N. Human Rights Council, has a record of anti-Israel obsession that stands out from the United Nations’ general bias against the Jewish state. But we had hoped that recent terrorist attacks would open European eyes to the danger of appeasing terrorists and ignoring reality.
Instead, France, Spain, Sweden, Russia and Slovenia were among the 33 nations voting for the resolution. Only Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the United States voted no.
We supporters of Israel and believers in historical truth won’t soon forget friends and foes.