Diplomacy

UNESCO Adopts Another Resolution Erasing Jewish Temple Mount Ties; Israel Recalls Envoy

A top UNESCO panel approved a controversial resolution ignoring Jewish and Christian historical ties to the Temple Mount on Wednesday, prompting Israel to withdraw its envoy to the United Nations cultural organization.

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO criticized the vote on the Arab-sponsored resolution — the second of its kind to be passed by the organization this month — by symbolically dropping its text into a garbage can marked “History.”

“This is yet another absurd resolution against the State of Israel, the Jewish people and historical truth,” the Israeli ambassador, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, said after the resolution was passed by UNESCO’s Heritage Committee with a vote of 10 to two and eight abstentions. The resolution, which was spearheaded by Kuwait, Lebanon, and Tunisia, solely refers to the Temple Mount — Judaism’s holiest site — by its Muslim names, and only defines it as “a Muslim holy site of worship.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consequently recalled Shama-Hacohen on Wednesday, saying, “The theater of the absurd continues, and I have decided to summon to Israel for consultations our ambassador to UNESCO. … We will decide what do, what our next steps vis-à-vis the organization will be.”

The Times of Israel reported that “the adoption of the resolution creates an absurd situation whereby the archaeological digs on and around the site of the Temple Mount, which have unearthed copious evidence of a Jewish connection to the site, may now be designated as destruction of the Muslim site.”

A similar UNESCO resolution ignoring Jewish and Christian links to the Temple Mount earlier this month was criticized by outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova, Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, and 40 members of Congress. Representative Ted Lieu (D – Calif.) mocked the resolution in a statement that included a satirical greeting from UNESCO: “Please visit our alternate universe often, where you will see unicorns and flying dragons. But in the UNESCO alt-reality, you won’t encounter any Jews or Christians because they don’t exist.”

In contrast, the vote was praised by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. “We commend the vote at the UNESCO that denied any historic claims between Jews and the al-Aqsa Mosque and its Western Wall,” Hamas spokesman Izzat al-Resheq said in a statement to Al-Jazeera.

In response to the earlier vote, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett suspended his country’s cooperation with UNESCO.

Palestinian attempts to erase or cast doubt on the well-established historical connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish faith, which The New York Times noted in October of last year, is a phenomenon that former Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold described as “Temple denial.” Days after the Times report, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who was appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that the Temple Mount has been the site of a mosque “since the creation of the world” and that it never housed a Jewish temple, despite ample evidence to the contrary.

David Hazony, editor of The Tower, wrote in 2007 that “Palestinian leaders, writers, and scholars have embarked on a campaign of intellectual erasure…aimed at undermining the Jewish claim to any part of the land,” of which Temple denial is a component.

Petra Marquardt-Bigman warned in The Tower last week that UNESCO’s erasure of Jewish and Christian ties to the Temple Mount was a reward for “almost a century of Palestinian intransigence and deadly incitement.”

[Photo: Nati Shohat / Flash90 ]