Muslims, Christians and Jews Must Oppose the UNESCO Decision
Some years ago, while browsing in a dusty second-hand bookstore in London, I came across a pamphlet titled A Brief Guide to Al-Haram Al-Sharif. The document was published in 1929 by the Supreme Muslim Council of Jerusalem. Intrigued by the title and content, I purchased the slim booklet and added it to the small selection of books and pamphlets I have put together over the years relating to the violent unrest known as the “1929 Palestine Riots.”
This particular pamphlet appears to have been published as a guidebook for English-speaking tourists who wanted to ascend onto the Temple Mount. The Supreme Muslim Council, which authored the document, was a body created in 1921 by the first British High Commissioner in Palestine, Sir Herbert Samuel. This was part of the preparatory work implemented in anticipation of the launch of the British Mandate in 1923. Samuel was Jewish and hailed from a nominally Orthodox family, although he was personally an atheist. A leading British politician and an ardent Zionist, he was a close personal friend of Chaim Weizmann, who became Israel’s first president. According to Weizmann, Samuel was eager to see total Jewish hegemony over the land of Israel achieved in as short a time as possible, and although he was not willing to share the details of his strategy, Samuel specified that as part of his plan, “Perhaps the Temple may be rebuilt, as a symbol of Jewish unity.”
This only makes his personal involvement in the creation of the Supreme Muslim Council all the more tragic. As the primary representative in Palestine of the British government, which was eager to demonstrate even-handedness in all its dealings with Palestine’s inhabitants, Samuel formed the council to represent the interests of the Muslim faith, and to formalize the authority of the various parochial waqfs and sharia courts in the territory. But instead of seeking out responsible Muslim leaders, he foolishly allowed the appointment of the rabble-rousing Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, as president of the 5-member council.
This hasty act quickly led to friction, and ultimately, in 1929, to a spasm of Muslim-inspired violence that resulted in the murder of 133 innocent Jews, and the injury of 339 others. The riots began after Husseini charged that Jews had no right to pray at the Western Wall in the manner they wished, and he incited his people to do something about it. The Mufti’s justification was that the wall and the land in front of it were integral parts of the Muslim holy site, Haram Al-Sharif — and was the very spot where Mohammed had tethered his horse before ascending to heaven.
Both of these claims were eventually debunked by the British government in the Shaw Commission report of 1931, although, wary of being accused of favoritism towards the Jews, the Commission determined that the Western Wall and adjacent land were located on Muslim owned property.
So why is this important?
To answer that question, we need only examine an excerpt from the opening of the 1929 pamphlet: “The site [of Haram Al-Sharif] is one of the oldest in the world. Its sanctity dates from the earliest — perhaps from prehistoric — times. Its identity with the site of Solomon’s Temple is beyond dispute. This, too, is the spot, according to universal belief, on which ‘David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings’ (2 Samuel 24:25).”
The guidebook goes on to inform the reader that despite the ancient connection between this site and the Jews, the guide’s authors would only consider the Muslim era associated with the Temple Mount, which began in 637 AD — almost 1700 years after the era of King David and King Solomon.
This editorial decision is hardly surprising; the people composing the pamphlet were members of the Supreme Muslim Council. What is surprising, in fact, astounding, is that this hardline extremist-led organization willingly admitted in print that the site they called Haram Al-Sharif was originally the Temple Mount, and that Jews had the first and longest historical connection to it.
And now, in 2016, some 87 years after the Supreme Muslim Council acknowledged the Jewish historical claim to the Temple Mount, UNESCO has ratified a resolution that deliberately omits any mention of the historical link between Jews and Jerusalem. The resolution went even further. It specifically identified only the Muslim holy sites on the Temple Mount, while intentionally ignoring the Jewish temple that stood there long before Islam came into existence.
Every Jew, every Christian, every atheist — and indeed, every honest Muslim — needs to raise his voice in protest at this egregious injustice. Is this what the UN was created to promulgate: lies, distortions and a complete whitewashing of history? Even the Nazi-collaborator Hajj Amin Al-Husseini never stooped so low. Silence in the face of this travesty cannot be rationalized as harmless neutrality. It is a sacrilege against truth, and amounts to collaboration with the latest permutation of the world’s oldest hatred.