09 July '15..
For decades, the United Nations has built an unsavory reputation as a cesspool of hatred for Israel that has often crossed the line into outright anti-Semitism. But anyone who thinks this behavior is limited to speeches at the General Assembly or even the hyper-political Human Rights Council that concentrates almost all of its attention on alleged infractions by democratic Israel while ignoring wholesale slaughters by Arab and Muslim tyrannies. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO is often treated as an apolitical agency but its efforts to delegitimize Israel have been every been as vicious as the actions of any other UN group. Its latest outrage came this week when its World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution that condemned Israel for allegedly conducting “illegal excavations” in the Old City; causing damage to structures on the Temple Mount; impeding restoration work on the Temple Mount; and damaging the “visual integrity” of the Old City by building the Jerusalem light rail system. These charges are a perversion of the truth. But by voting for a resolution that treats Jerusalem as a Muslim shrine as if Jewish history, either ancient or contemporary, didn’t exist, UNESCO isn’t just engaging in Jew-hatred, it’s also denying Christian ties to the holy city.
Interestingly, the UNESCO move comes only a week after CNN published an article on its website that treated Jerusalem as the first item on a list of 25 most endangered historical sites in the world. That the list omitted any mention of the actual destruction of ancient buildings and artifacts by ISIS terrorists in Palmyra, Syria exposed the network to ridicule. But CNN’s decision to lead with false information about Jerusalem showed the influence of UNESCO, which has kept Israel’s capital on a list of such endangered sites since 1982.
But the rationale for its inclusion on such a list is purely political. As I noted earlier this week when writing about CNN’s piece, it is only due to Israel’s efforts since the city’s unification during the Six Day War that much of the city’s ancient and holy sites have been preserved and cleaned up. After 19 years of vandalism by Jordan, which illegally occupied parts of the city until 1967, Israel restored the ramparts of the Old City walls and restored the ancient Jewish quarter as well as the Western Wall, which had treated as a garage dump by the Jordanians. Only under Israeli rule has there been free access for all faiths to the holy sites after many centuries in which both Christians and Jews have suffered restrictions. The only exception to that rule is on the Temple Mount, which remains under the authority of a Muslim Wakf and where Jewish prayers are banned.
It is comical to even address the complaints lodged against Israel, but let’s briefly note that the charge of undermining the structural integrity of the Temple Mount is simply a lie. What the members who voted for this lie are doing is seeking to stigmatize Israel for work in the area of the Western Wall that has opened up the tunnels as well as an archeological park. The not-so-secret agenda here is to deny Jewish history and the ties of the Jewish people to their ancient capital. If there is any destruction going on in Jerusalem it is the work of the Wakf which has conducted excavations that have trashed ancient sites and treated artifacts that predate the 7th century arrival of Muslim conquerors as trash to be discarded.
Just as telling is the fact that this UN resolution refers to the Western Wall only as the “Buraq Plaza,” a Muslim term. It also references the Temple Mount — the holiest site in Judaism — as only a “Muslim holy site of worship.” Nor is there any reference in the text to the city’s ties to Christianity.
As for the building of the Light Rail, the creation of a system of mass transit was a vital necessity for what is a living city and serves Arab neighborhoods as well as Jewish ones. Built to blend in with its surroundings, it in no way affects the “visual integrity” of the city. But, like every other evidence of the revival of Jewish life, it is seen as inherently offensive to those who think the Jews have no right to live in their ancient homeland, even in territory controlled by Israel before 1967.
But UNESCO’s embrace of these canards isn’t harmless or merely an offense to Jewish sensibilities. By parroting Palestinian propaganda in this manner, the UN agency is feeding into efforts to foment hatred against Jews. Throughout the last century, Arab leaders have whipped up anti-Semitic sentiment by spreading lies about the Jews plotting to do damage to the mosques on the Temple Mount. These efforts led to pogroms in 1921, 1929 and 1936 and inspired terror attacks during the last year. Seen in that light, this resolution isn’t merely just another instance of UN prejudice against Israel. By endorsing incitement and denying Jewish history, it is a UN endorsement of anti-Semitism.
If not rescinded, this resolution should be justification, in and of itself, for a U.S. decision to completely pull out of UNESCO (funding has already been cut off) and to raise the ante by threatening funding for the UN itself. It is long past time for both the U.S. and other democracies to stop participating in a hate group masquerading as a force for world peace. So long as UNESCO behaves in this fashion, it no longer deserves the presence of an American delegate.