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August 17, 2011 12:51 pm

EXCLUSIVE: UNESCO Acknowledges Labelling Maimonides as Muslim

avatar by Shmuel Bruck

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Rambam's (Maimonides) grave compound in Tiberias, Israel. Photo: Almog.

Maimonides, also known as RaMBaM, Rabbi Moshe, ben (son of) Moshe, is hailed as one of the greatest Jewish scholars, writers and philosophers in history. His legal work covers most areas of Jewish faith and law, and he is often cited as the father of modern Jewish intellectualism. However, some are accusing UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) of casting doubt over Maimonides’ religious affiliation

Elder of Ziyon blog reported that in a December 2010 report on science in the Arab world, UNESCO printed in its French version: “[L]es noms de quelques savants européens apparaissaient dans la littérature scientifique à côté d’un grand nombre de savants musulmans, parmi lesquels Ibn Rushd (Averroès), Moussa ibn Maïmoun (Maïmonide), Tousi et Ibn Nafis.”

The translation provided: “[T]he names of some European scholars appeared in scientific literature next to a large number of Muslim scholars, including Ibn Rushd (Averroes) [who contended the Islamic claim that philosophers were outside the Quranic scripture; Maimouna Ibn Moussa (Maimonides); Tousi [Persian philosopher and doctor]; and Ibn Nafi [Arab physician].

The blog Elder of Ziyon and website, Jews for Sarah, both posted articles assailing UNESCO, of what they saw as an attempt to reconstruct history. “This is not the first time that UNESCO has changed history to replace Jews with Muslims,” wrote William A. Jacobson. “They have been prolific in Islamicizing sites long considered to have religious and historical importance to the Jewish people.”

The English version of the original document, which UNESCO provided, is slightly different than the one provided by Elder of Ziyon: “The names of a few European scientists appear in scientific literature alongside a string of Muslim scientists, whose numbers include Ibn-Rushd; Musa Bin Memoun; Tusi and Ibn-Nafis.”(Editor’s note – see above.)

Similar claims criticizing UNESCO’s political agenda have been made by Jewish organizations in the past regarding its categorization of Jewish holy sites, such as Rachel’s Tomb (Kever Rachel) and The Cave of the Patriarchs (Me’arat HaMachpelah).

When contacted directly by the Algemeiner for comment a UNESCO spokesperson replied,  “UNESCO acknowledges that there was indeed an important and regrettable error in the chapter devoted to Arab States in the UNESCO Science Report published in 2006, which refers to Maimonides as a Muslim scholar,” they said. “Despite the vigile [sic] of our editors, errors unfortunately do occasionally occur.”

The representative declined to comment further.

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