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October 13, 2016 12:36 pm

American Jewish Groups, Israeli Politicians React With Outrage to New UNESCO Resolution Ignoring Jewish People’s Ties With Jerusalem

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The Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Western Wall in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Major American Jewish groups and top Israeli politicians reacted with outrage on Thursday after the UN’s cultural body approved a resolution that ignores the Jewish people’s ties with Jerusalem holy sites.

“The theater of the absurd continues at the UN,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “Today UNESCO adopted its second decision this year denying the Jewish people’s connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site for over three thousand years. What’s next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? Rock and roll?”

“Is it any wonder the UN has become a moral farce when UNESCO, the UN body tasked with preserving history, denies and distorts history? Israel will continue to fight the lies, hatred and double standards at the UN. Israel will prevail because truth will prevail.”

24 countries voted in favor of the UNESCO Executive Board resolution and six — the US, UK, Germany, Holland, Lithuania and Estonia — voted against. 26 countries abstained and two countries were missing from the vote.

The vote on the resolution — which was submitted by Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar and Sudan — had been postponed from July. However, a previous similar resolution was approved in April.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper – the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles — spoke with The Algemeiner from Jerusalem on Thursday following the resolution’s approval and said, “This was a full-blown assault on Jewish history and the rights of the Jewish people. And it’s something that we’re going to have to do our best to combat and make sure that this false narrative isn’t allowed to gain further traction around the world. I think this is one of those situations in which all Jewish groups have to join with the State of Israel in ensuring that the truth gets out.”

“The real problem is that the language of the resolution is much worse than the one that [was postponed in July],” Cooper said. “The language of the resolution does not mention the Temple Mount once, using just the Arab connotation. The Western Wall was only mentioned in quotes, using the Arabic designation, and it threw in the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb for good measure.”

One piece of good news, Cooper said, was that no European country voted in favor of the resolution. Cooper also noted the irony of countries like Morocco, Qatar and Sudan — “three paragons of human rights,” as he sarcastically put it — backing the resolution.

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog said in a statement, “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. 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.”

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement, “I was outraged to hear of UNESCO’s vote today which 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?”

“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.”

Ahead of the vote, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a statement calling the resolution a Palestinian bid to “rewrite the Judeo-Christian history of Jerusalem.”

The resolution “purposefully distorts, denigrates and ultimately seeks to deny the millennia long historical reality of the profound Jewish connection to sites which are among the holiest in Judaism, Christianity and other faith traditions,” the statement said.

In an interview with The Algemeiner last week, Malcolm Hoenlein — the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — said UNESCO’s disregard of the Jewish people’s historic connection with Jerusalem represented a “war on Jewish history.”

“It’s an attempt to deny our past in order to deny our future,” he said.

In a statement released on Thursday, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder called the passage of the resolution “shameful.”

“What happened today in Paris is anti-Semitism on steroids,” he said. “It is a total travesty and an insult to the Jewish people to pretend that the holy sites in Jerusalem are only Muslim sites, and to ignore the fact that the Temple Mount was already the holiest place of Judaism well before the advent of Islam…There are Hebrew names for the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, and they exist for a reason: because these are Jewish holy sites. One would expect a body like UNESCO, which was created to safeguard important sites like this, not to succumb to political pressure from governments that want to play politics with UN bodies.”

Furthermore, Lauder noted, “next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Since then, the State of Israel has protected that all major religions with ties to the city — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — enjoy access to their holy sites. The text adopted by UNESCO in Paris today shows that these sites cannot be entrusted to other governments.”

American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris said in a statement, “A minority of UNESCO members, led by the Palestinian Authority and Arab countries, has sought for a long time to exploit this body to castigate Israel. The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia have asserted moral leadership by firmly and unequivocally rejecting this blatant historical revisionism. Let’s be clear what’s at work here: This is 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 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) characterized the UNESCO resolution as an “affront to the truth and a crude attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

“By approving such an untruthful and one-sided 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,” the AIPAC statement said. “Unfortunately, this resolution is also demonstrative of Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations by manipulating international institutions.”

And in a congratulatory message to Antonio Guterres of Portugal on his election as the next UN secretary general on Thursday, Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon said, “On a day when UN agencies have again chosen to slander Israel and UNESCO adopted a resolution which attempts to sever the historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, I expect the new secretary general to be a fair leader.  We hope that he will end the obsession with Israel, and will work together with us against the antisemitic and anti-Israel forces in the UN.”

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  • Jane Jackman

    Anyone care to read the actual ‘Draft Decision’? Contrary to what you all seem to think, it does not deny the importance of the site to Judaism and Christianity at all; rather, it affirms it. What it does deny is the right of Israel (as the ‘occupying Power’ to violate international law by continuing to obstruct repair and restoration work to the site and its buildings – amongst other breaches it goes on to mention. Certainly, it strongly decries Israel’s activities around the Mount, as well as in East Jerusalem, where Israel is in contravention of previous rulings governing care of the site. It also calls on Israel to ease sanctions on Gaza; and on these issues, UNESCO is well within its rights to call on Israel (as the occupying Power) to behave within existing international law. But will it? No. Instead, as is happening here and across the media, Israel and those who refuse to recognise its faults will kick up a dust storm to deflect attention away from the real issues. Ultimately, such blind support for Israel’s wrongdoing and failure to hold it to account does it a grave disservice.


    Isn’t it time to BUILD THE THIRD TEMPLE?

    • Stanley Cohen

      It’s time to end the unjust Arab occupation of Jerusalem. Enough is enough.

  • geoffrey ben-nathan

    If I were Netanyahu, I would summon the French Ambassador and quietly tell him to tell Francois Hollande to drop all ideas of brokering any sort of agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians – as the French hope to do.
    I would tell him that Israel now regards France as biased and having sold its soul to its burgeoning Muslim community whom it seeks to appease.
    The same applies to Sweden.
    He might, in the most diplomatic possible way, try to teach these ambassadors a few words of Hebrew from the Yom Kippur reading of the Torah – “lech l’Azazel” which
    translates as “Get Lost !”

  • Jeffrey Todd Schwartz

    The strategy is clear and obvious. Deny the Holocaust, Jewish ties to Israel, etc., etc., etc. Pure anti semitism utilizing revisionist history. Not new or original in any way.
    That’s why ISIS rushes to destroy antiquities. Who cares what the “United Nothings” think. The only answer is Annex, annex, annex it all as reflected in the Balfour Declaration. From the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. That’s the beauty of self governance and determination- who cares what the rest of the word thinks. We are supposed to be a light unto the nations and not the other way around.

  • Roelof Kingma

    And this comes as a surprise? Come on, get serious! What is the percentage/share of muslim-members at the UN? They outnumber the christian and secular countries.
    God has a plan with Israel and for that reason things are happening the way they do.
    My country, The Netherlands, voted against!

  • henrytobias

    Is this a parallel to the Zionism = Racism resolution?

  • Simon Néhmé

    UNESCO has become a nest where professional antiSemites live a luxury life, look at who funds them and pays their salaries and bakhchich, for example. So : which culture and positive aspect can someone expect from this ? From a cultural association UNESCO has become more political than it was and nowadays, a revisionist and negationist one losing all credibility.

  • tiki

    Don’t let the abstainers of the hook. They agree, just didn’t say so.

    In life there never is a vacuum.

    When a landlord doesn’t take care of his property it will be neglected and lost.

    So, don’t blame UNESCO but Jerusalem who left it’s Jewish heritage in the hands of the Muslim Waqf.

    What did they expect?

  • The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is Jewish territory for over two millennium and it has been since prior to the building of the two Jewish temples. It is a historical fact that King David of Israel paid the Jebusites money to purchase that property, in order to avoid conflict. Israel, after liberating Jerusalem and Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism in 1967; Israel graciously permitted the Arabs to continue to pray at Temple Mount.

    The time has come to terminate said arrangement. Jewish worshippers have suffered years of abuse by Arabs committing unwarranted acts of violence on a consistent basis. Israel has the right, duty and obligation to revoke the unappreciated privilege formally granted. It is the Arab s who are defiling The Jewish “Holy of Holies”.

    It is time for Israel to take back Jewish its sacred ground, which is the holiest site in Judaism, once and for all.

    I am sure Arabs would not permit anyone in the world to build and control the holy Site in Mecca. Let the Arabs have Mecca, and the Judeo-Christian people have Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

    Supreme Muslim Council: Temple Mount is Jewish

    The widely-disseminated Arab claim that the Temple Mount isn’t Jewish has been debunked – by the Supreme Muslim Council (Waqf), in a 1925 pamphlets

    First Publish: 9/1/2008, 5:34 PM

    The widely-disseminated Arab Muslim position that the Temple Mount is not Jewish has been debunked – by the Supreme Muslim Council (Waqf) of Jerusalem, in a Temple Mount guide published in 1925.

    Wakf guidebook, 1925, cover
    The Temple Institute

  • julea bacall

    OK, I get the outrage & feel it but its a waste to just feel it. What is to be done? What will this actually cause? There has to be something to be done. Organize protests at UN buildings NY and all through the States? CUFI? Petitions? I am not an organizer but a worker. So what can we do?!

  • cbusa

    The UN has once again proven to be a useless organization of despots and dictators. Peace can only move farther away when the history of the Jewish people and the very legitimacy of Israel continue to be denied.

  • Efram Paul

    Why is Israel still in the UN? What is the difference between being part of the UN and being part of the Nazi party?

  • moafu

    personally, I can not express enough disgust for the UN and UNESCO in particular. They bogus and scammers. They should be invited to leave USA and US gov’t should pay only membership dues – period. Since 1974 when the wretched UN passed the resolution equating Zionism to Racism, I have lobbied for their removal from US soil. They are useless, and intentionally Anti-Semitic and anti western in their views.

    Tell them to “get the he-l out of here !

  • Nuritg

    Best, Israel does not let any UNESCO officials enter Israel

  • Ted Crawford

    Conclusive proof that way too many folks at the UN have got their heads so far up the Great Islamic Arse that they can’t see daylight! Darkness of the worst kind; in negative.

  • schwarzerschwan

    The irony of it was outlined somewhere I think by an Israeli politician who pointed out that in Rome is all the proof UNESCO needed.

    The Roman Emperor, Tiberius brought back a piece of the ancient wall as part of the spoils of war following the sacking of Jerusalem.

    On the piece, now on view for all the world to see is the Menorah, a symbol of Israel to this day.

    But what is shameful are the states that abstained. Abstention is cowardice.

    If you want people to know your leadership is antisemitic fine, stand by your racism. I can respect that.

    But to abstain is not having the balls to admit you are weak and ineffectual.

  • Jews must be especially tolerant of fellow Jews.

    I hope to see a modern Temple stand tall on the Temple Mount. A place where all Jews are welcome to pray, and where all friends of Jews are welcome to pray. There are two altars at the Temple. An altar for incense, and an altar for animals. Of the two, the altar for incense is the one that is more important for the Kohanim.

    The current situation on the Temple Mount is painful. But it is also a time to reassess ourselves. Be more tolerant of fellow Jews. And be more thoughtful – and more decisive – about our Jewish heritage. Our aboriginal spiritual heritage is miraculous, authentic, and able to integrate and to respond to modern developments.

    The UN vote is disappointing, but unsurprising. The UN proves again and again to appear ethically bankrupt. It is time to disband the UN, like its predecessor, League of Nations. Jews are often the first victims of a dysfunctional system, but never the last. If the UN proves dehumanizing against the Jewish ethnicity, then the power and amorality at the UN will eventually endanger the wellbeing of the entire human species – Khas V Shalom.

    At the same time, we can assess our own behaviors. Jew-versus-Jew infighting frustrates Nonjewish allies and emboldens Nonjewish enemies. The finer details of what would be healthy disagreements among Jews would get lost, if what Nonjews would see from a distance would be, Jews being hateful and hated – Khas V Shalom.

    It would be highly harmful if Jewish factions recruit Nonjewish factions to harm fellow Jews. The activism of B’Tselem and Peace Now in the UN Security Council crosses the line, by inciting demonization of Tora Jews, for example, but the opposite example, of demonizing US Secular Jews crosses the line.

    When Jews harm fellow Jews, the global environment becomes less compassionate toward all Jews – Khas V Shalom.

    Regarding the UN vote about the Temple Mount,

    The Jewish government of Israel can help restore an Israeli presence on the Temple Mount. It is vital for the Israeli government, itself more than
    any other government, to recognize and to legitimize the connection
    between the Temple Mount and Judaism.

    Jews must pray freely on the Temple Mount.

    The Israeli government must assert the human right and the aboriginal right of Am Yisrael, to do pray in accordance with the aboriginal sacred
    heritage of Tora.

    Finally, has the government has began policing the Temple Mount against abuse by Islamists. But the list of desecration to the Jewish holy site continues, even including the Waqf destroying the Temple archeological remains.

    The government of Israel must
    recognize the connection between Judaism and the Mountain of Tsiyon −
    namely, the Temple Mount and the City of David.

    • Mercworx

      It’s Jews on the left who have encouraged this behavior.

      I’m not going to give these Kapos a pass.

      • Jew-versus-Jew hostility is the problem.

        Anyone can become guilty of this problem.

  • Lizbeth A Glickman

    Anyone who attempts to carry out this resolution within any area controlled by Israel should be tried and jailed–no exemptions.

  • Huskystar

    The countries of France, Sweden, Slovenia, India, Argentina, and Togo but were convinced to abstain from voting in the end———————–SHAME on them for giving into lies and hate..time to boycott all of them NOT ONE MORE DIME NOT ONE!

  • Michael

    I guess Christianity never happened then too. Unless their story played out in a mosque.

    • Lizbeth A Glickman

      Excellent, thank you.

    • moafu

      Dang. i gotta reply to you, Michael. Excellent response.

    • julea bacall

      Naturally that is the next step and has been since 600AD as far as my study went.