Outrage is building amid Jewish and Christians groups who support Israel at the latest anti-Israel resolution to clear the United Nations’ educational, scientific and cultural agency.
UNESCO’s executive board voted Oct. 18 in Paris to deny all Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall, referring to these sites by their Muslim names and blasting Israel as the “occupying Power” that uses “right wing extremists” to badger innocent Muslims.
UNESCO “firmly deplores the continuous storming of Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces, and urges Israel, the occupying Power, to take necessary measures to prevent provocative abuses that violate the sanctity and integrity of Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif,” the resolution states, as WND reported last week.
Shoshana Bryen, writing for the Gatestone Institute, said the final vote on the Palestinian-backed resolution “seems clearly a response to the expansionist, jihadist aspirations of members of the OIC who sponsored it: Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan.”
The OIC is the powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which controls a 57-nation bloc of Islamic countries at the U.N.
The vote to approve the resolution was 24-6 with 26 other nations abstaining. Among the abstentions were Western governments in Italy, France, Greece and Sweden. The six nations casting votes against the resolution and in favor of Israel were the U.S., the U.K., Germany, Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia.
Bryen lambasted the European nations that abstained, saying the rampant influx of Muslim migrants into European nations such as France, Greece and Italy explains these nations’ hesitancy to have Israel’s back.
Some analysts consider a vote to abstain to be a victory for Israel in a “glass if half full” viewpoint based on the fact that more nations voted for Israel or abstained than voted against Israel in favor of the Palestinians. But, as Bryen explained, “for Spain, Greece, France, Sweden, Slovenia, and Italy it was blatant appeasement and fear of their own often-violent Muslim minorities: ‘Please, please, don’t blow up our capital cities. We will reject Jewish and Christian history and pretend Jesus chased the money changers from the steps of Montmartre.'”
UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova had already announced her opposition to the resolution, a position for which she received death threats, Bryen reported.
“Having demonstrable historical fact, such as Jewish patrimony on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, subject to the whims of the U.N., in which, as the late Abba Eban said, Arabs could muster a majority to decide the sun rises in the West, is not a positive proposition,” Bryen writes. “The question remains how to convince nations in the West to stand for themselves in the face of Islamists committed to replacing them.”
Rachel’s Tomb was a ‘mosque’?
And the anti-Jewish resolution didn’t stop with Temple Mount. It refers to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as Palestinian sites, naming Rachel’s Tomb specifically as a mosque.
The Arab-Muslim denial of historic reality flies in the face of all archeological evidence.
Just this week, it was reported that archaeologists found the battle site where Romans breached Jerusalem’s walls. The discovery confirms Josephus’s account of the conflict that saw the destruction of Second Temple nearly 2,000 years ago, says the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
During the dig, the archaeologists found the remains of a tower surrounded by scores of stones and boulders fired by Roman catapults at the Jewish forces guarding the wall, the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.
“This is a fascinating testimony of the intensive bombardment by the Roman army, led by Titus, on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple,” the statement said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he was “outraged” by the UNESCO vote, which he said in a statement “denies thousands of years of Jewish connection to Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
“Would UNESCO vote to deny the Christian connection to the Vatican? Or the Muslim connection to Mecca?” he asked.
“The UNESCO vote claims that there is no connection between the Jewish people and the Western Wall. In fact, it is the UNESCO vote that has no connection to reality.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had weighed in after the preliminary vote on Oct. 13 saying on his Facebook page: “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.”
Also posting on Facebook, Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog, head of the Zionist Union, accused UNESCO of giving a “bad name to diplomacy” and “telling a terrible lie that only serves to increase hatred.”
“On this matter there is no disagreement among the people of Israel, and I urge UNESCO to withdraw this bizarre resolution and to engage in protecting, not distorting, human history.”
David Harris, chief executive of the American Jewish Committee, dubbed the resolution “another attempt to undermine the very foundation of the State of Israel and the documented, age-old historical Jewish connection to the land. And unlike previous such resolutions, notably, not one European nation lent its support this time.”
The ADL said in a statement that the resolution “essentially expunges the 3,000 years of Jewish connection to Jerusalem.”
“Resolutions such as these poison the atmosphere and sow mistrust making steps toward reconciliation all the more difficult,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.
AIPAC said in a statement that by approving such a resolution, UNESCO “undermines efforts to seek a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by giving support to forces in the Palestinian community that reject reconciliation.
“This resolution is also demonstrative of Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by manipulating international institutions.
“We commend the nations that stood up for historic truth and rejected this malignant resolution.”
The preliminary vote one week before the final vote had the unintended effect of uniting Jewish groups across all sides of the political spectrum in their criticism.
But some felt Israel could do more to cultivate its support from Christians living in Western countries.
Better relationships with Christian groups needed
While Israel reached out to the Vatican and to evangelical groups, the efforts were not effective, according to Israeli media reports.
“I think they need to be more proactive,” Kenneth Meshoe, an MP with the African Christian Democratic Party, told the Jewish News Service. “They need to inform their Christian allies more in time so they can organize themselves, they can instruct those in the U.N. what to say and what not to say.”
Israel started reaching out to Christians several years ago, forming caucuses in 35 parliaments worldwide.
For “people who put an economic agenda first, we don’t have oil, [so they] won’t stand with us,” Josh Reinstein, director of Israel’s Christian allies caucus, told JNS. “Only those who stand with us will be those who put belief ahead of politics, and that means we have to reach out to the Christian world.”
But Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews said more can be done to cultivate and encourage Christian support.
“Israel has not made Christians into strategic allies, nor have Jewish organizations around the world found a way to harness and rally their support on political issues.
“The Christian allies caucus focusing on parliaments is minimal. And groups in Europe, like Christian Friends of Israel, are probably the most active and effective in Europe more than all. But the bottom line is it’s not sufficient, and it’s not generally politically or lobby driven and it’s not coordinated.”
Christians United for Israel condemned UNESCO’s resolution and issued an action alert Monday asking its members to email UNESCO’s leadership expressing opposition to their vote, according to a statement by CUFI spokesman Ari Morgenstern.
The alert generated some 20,000 emails, which in part, read, “Your actions will never erase the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. But your behavior does have consequences. By denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the land of Israel, you will weaken all seeking peace and reconciliation with Israel. At the same time, you will strengthen and encourage those seeking to delegitimize and destroy Israel.”
Asked about Israel’s outreach efforts, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry told JNS.org Jerusalem was “in contact with the Christian communities on UNESCO and will keep on working together until the dishonest and hypocritical resolution is no more.”
The ministry posted a YouTube video in which a narrator reads aloud passages from the New Testament in which he substituted the Arabic names for the Temple Mount with the Jewish ones, highlighting the erasure of Jewish and Christian heritage at the site implied by the resolution’s use of Islamic terminology.