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October 28, 2016 6:53 am

How Could Christian-Dominated Latin American Countries Embrace the UNESCO Vote on Jerusalem?

avatar by Leah Soibel

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UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Thousands of Christians from around the world recently visited Jerusalem to trace the footsteps of Jesus through the cobbled, winding streets of the Old City, just as they do every Sukkot. The holiday is one of the three Jewish festivals during which Jews made the pilgrimage to the Temple centuries ago, but now a UNESCO resolution claims that these events never happened.

It is hardly shocking that Iran, along with several Arab countries, voted in favor of the draft resolution by the UN cultural body, in a move widely viewed as denying the historic and religious ties between Jews and Jerusalem.

But among all the many absurdities of that resolution, the most stunning for me was the fact that Latin American powerhouses Brazil and Mexico, along with Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, embraced it

The latest figures from the Pew Research Center show that in these countries, and in the rest of Latin America, the vast majority of the populations identify as Christians (69% of the continent’s total population is Catholic, 19% is Protestant).

Surely these countries understand that by diminishing Jewish history, UNESCO is de facto negating Christian ties to the holy city as well. For if there was no Jewish temple as UNESCO insinuates, then Jesus could never have set foot there as detailed in scripture.

Pastor Mario Bramnick, president of the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC), said his organization “condemns UNESCO’s decision which denies the historical Jewish and Christian connection to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.”

Pastor Bramnick told Fuente Latina, a US non-profit working with Hispanic media covering Israel and the Mideast, that “Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were originally under Jewish control. … Jesus taught, prayed and performed miracles in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount during the time of the Second Temple.”

In case you missed it, UNESCO’s recently green-lighted resolution, called “Occupied Palestine,” names holy sites, including the location where the Jewish temples stood in biblical times, by their Islamic names only. The resolution puts the Jewish names in inverted commas, which questions their authenticity. And this is by the body created by the UN in part to advance understanding between cultures.

The draft resolution, sponsored by several Arab countries, was of course not the first time that Palestinians and others have exploited the UN to taint Israel’s image. But this time the move hit Jews and Christians around the world on a deeper level than before, as Jerusalem and its holy sites are at the heart of both faiths.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dubbed the resolution “absurd,” and later tweeted: “What’s next? A UNESCO decision denying the connection between peanut butter and jelly? Batman and Robin? Rock and roll?”

Similar, if more restrained, reactions came from many communities around the world.

But the resolution was mostly met with apathy in Latin America. Brazil, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua all historically have good relations with Israel, and they all have very large Christian populations. However, in 2010, Nicaragua suspended ties with Israel.

Although governments in those countries mostly remained passive or complicit, both Christians and Jews in the Spanish-speaking world are expressing their outrage over the vote and demanding answers from their representatives.

For example, a Spanish-language social media movement, #SomosIsrael (We are Israel), initiated by Hispanic Christians, took to Twitter the night the resolution was signed and became a top trending topic in several Latin American countries, generating more than five million impressions in one day alone.

The united voices show support for Israel and outrage over the rewriting of history, and demand that Latin American countries reconsider their position.

Mexico has since changed its stance, withdrawing support for the UNESCO resolution, and changed its vote to an abstention. Brazil expressed reservations about the language of the resolution, but did not change its official position. Unfortunately, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua did not follow suit.

Despite protests, the controversial resolution was adopted by UNESCO’s Executive Committee.

Leah Soibel is founder and CEO of Fuente Latina, a U.S. non-profit, non-governmental organization that removes geographic and linguistic barriers for global Spanish language media covering stories about Israel and the Mideast. With offices in Jerusalem, Madrid, and Miami, FL is the only organization of its kind engaging international Latino media in their language and in real time. Visit www.fuentelatina.org or follow us on Twitter @fuentelatina.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • CelestialChoir

    Over 5000 Christian pilgrims from 90 nations journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate
    Sukkot between October 16–23, 2016. Thousands of churches worldwide have
    integrated the Shalosh Regalim into the calendar of the Church Year. The Sukkot pilgrimage to Jerusalem provides a huge economic benefit for Jerusalem, as hotels, guesthouses, convention centers and restaurants fill with happy guests. I guess
    the Sukkot pilgrims did not get the UNESCO memo!

  • CelestialChoir

    Over 5000 Christian pilgrims recently sojourned to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. Millions more Christians worldwide celebrate Sukkot in their own home churches and fellowships–many celebrations are inter-church and some are done in cooperation with local synagogues and shuls. The celebration of the Shalosh Regalim–including Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles–became part of many church calendars, starting in the late 1970’s. This trend has continued unabated for the last 40 years, and more churches worldwide have fully integrated the ancient pilgrim festivals into the church year.

    The City of Jerusalem enjoys a huge economic boost of tourist revenues as hotels,
    guesthouses, convention centers and restaurants fill up with happy guests. Local
    vendors sell their fresh produce and supply those fragrant etrogs and lulavim. International feast pilgrims meet each other and local citizens; friendships are started and renewed; and many historic sites and music festivals host thousands of attendees. Sukkot has become a major religious festival for two historic faiths; a festival that generates goodwill, employs thousands of local citizens and benefits
    the Israeli economy.

    It would appear that over 5000 Christians from 90 nations–and thousands of Jews
    who also come to Jerusalem yearly to celebrate Sukkot–just did not get the UNESCO memo!

  • Sonia

    The Pope took two weeks to speak against the UNESCO resolution. He is a politician, not a believer. Let Israel note this. Do not trust him for one moment and never bow the knee to him! I remember Menachem Begin saying:”The Jew bows the knee only to G*d.” One can talk to the pope as a president of the Vatican (country) but do not bend nor bow to him. He is a man and let’s not pretend that his organization is not evil

  • Sonia

    No genuine believer that Jeshua is the promised Messiah of Israel WOULD OR COULD support that ABSURD AND INFAMOUS AND UN-TRUTHFUL bill passed by UNESCO which has lost any semblance of credibility, as the UNHCR has as well.

    It takes an idiot in culture and archaeology to think that that which sits ON TOP (the mosque) came – historically- that which sits beneath – the foundations of the Temple.

    It also takes a biblical unbeliever and moron to really believe that. So all who supported OR FAILED TO OPPOSE THE RESOLUTION HAVE DECLARED THEIR CHRISTIAN BIBLES TO BE INVALID and should officially throw them in the dustbin! (This includes South Africa, where Bishop Tutu has shamefully spearheaded a movement against Israel!)

    Nevertheless, the G*d of Israel is not mocked and His presence is – even now- hovering over Jerusalem. Those who deny this in the face of all clear knowledge to the contrary set themselves against the Living and Eternal G*d.

  • Bro. Nick

    I do not understand the conclusion reached by the author of this article
    – For the leadership and hierarchy of the Religion of Roman Catholicism have traditionally been hostile against the Jewish people for over 1,000 years – and against their eternal homeland of Israel since 1948
    – And that certainly includes the Argentinian Jesuit Pope Francis
    – And it must be remembered that the countries of Central and South America, and the Caribbean are overwhelmingly followers of Roman Catholicism
    – And anti-Christian beliefs and actions are growing all around the world – just take a look at what is happening RIGHT NOW in France and Spain, and recently in Mexico – and all of these countries have been bastions of Roman Catholicism for many-many years.

    And there is also rapidly growing anti-Semetism worldwide
    – For there are fewer and ever-fewer governments and people all around the world that actually believe the Biblical Abrahamic Promises by “the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and ISRAEL” of His Blessing – or the Warning of His Curse – which are the consequence of how they treat “ISRAEL”:
    “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house,
    unto a land that I will shew thee:
    And I will make of thee a great nation,
    and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
    (Genesis 12:1-3 ~ AV)

  • bigrobtheactor

    The title of the article seems to imply the writer has an explanation, not just a question but after reading it I found none. I would have appreciated a little insight into this preposterous posturing by those who wouldn’t be who they are without us being who we are.

  • Lorensacho

    People in these very conservative Christian countries still believe that the Jews killed Christ. They must be punished into eternity.