On Thursday, UNESCO, the politicized “cultural” arm of the United Nations, passed a resolution designed to erase more than 2000 years of Jewish history. The unequivocally anti-Jewish resolution posits that Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount. Of course, the sick irony here is that it was the Jews that built the Temple Mount, a structure now increasingly occupied by colonialist Arab-Muslims.
A shameful list of 24 countries voted for the resolution, while only six voted against it. The United States led the charge against the resolution, followed by the United Kingdom,Germany, Holland, Lithuania and Estonia. Another 26 other countries abstained from voting altogether.
According to left-leaning Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Israeli diplomats successfully lobbied France, Sweden, Slovenia, Argentina, Togo and India to at least abstain from the disreputable vote.
Israeli officials immediately condemned the resolution as a farce.
"To say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China and that Egypt has no connection to the Pyramids,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "With this absurd decision, UNESCO lost the little legitimization it had left. But I believe that the historical truth is stronger and the truth will win.”
"No forum or body in the world can say that there is no connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel and to Jerusalem,” added Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. A body that does so is simply humiliating itself." The president added that "we also understand criticism, but history cannot be changed."
Predictably, Palestinian officials had a much different response, celebrating the decision to sever the ties between the Jewish people and the sacred shrine they built with their own hands. Premising its argument on nothing more than historical revisionism and Jew-hatred, the Palestinian Authority decided to milk its hard-fought moment of glory by demonizing Israel.
“Few countries succumbed to the PR bullying orchestrated by Israel, which shifted the focus from Israel's illegal and colonial actions in occupied East Jerusalem to issues irrelevant to the content and objectives of the resolutions, which aims to put an end to Israel's dangerous and illegal actions against holy sites in Jerusalem and Palestinian rights, including the right to worship,” said the Palestinian Authority in a statement.
Not a word of that statement is true. In fact, Israel has arrested Jews for attempting to violate the status quo and worship at the Temple Mount. As it stands today, the Islamic Waqf (a religious committee managed by Jordan) enjoys administrative control over the Jewish holy site. Israel provides security for the area, while forcefully enforcing religious rules dictated by the waqf.
“For Jews, visiting the Temple Mount is a very controversial subject- both in terms of religious allowance and because non-Muslim prayer is prohibited at the site,” explains The Jewish Virtual Library (JVL). “Although freedom of access to the site is enshrined as law, Israel does not allow non-Muslim prayer on the Mount so as not to offend Muslim worshippers. Beyond this, many rabbis say that since the Jewish Temple's Holy of Holies stood near the center of today's Temple Mount, Jews are religiously forbidden from entering the area.”
Jewish access to the site is incredibly limited, while Arab Muslims can enter through one of ten, yes 1 of 10, Muslim-only gates. “Tourists and Jews are only allowed access to the site through the Mugrabi Gate which is located just above to the left of the Kotel, or Western Wall plaza,” notes JVL.
Despite the de facto religious apartheid laws, Arab Muslim states have worked tirelessly to erase well-documented and irrefutable Jewish history as a means of delegitimizing the Jewish State of Israel.
From opposing archaeological digs on dubious grounds to petitioning the United Nations for resolutions rewriting history, the Arab nation-states artificially carved out of the Sykes-Picot agreement have been projecting their own cultural anxieties about modernity and the pan-Arab project in the post-Ottoman era by targeting history’s favorite scapegoat, the Jews.
Fortunately, a piece of paper signed at an institution overrun by overzealous Sunni autocrats and Shiite theocrats doesn’t mean all that much to actual scholars and historians specializing in early Judaic history.
The fact is, Jewish history in the Levant dates back several millennia. Marking their presence are the remnants of not one but two holy temples. According to biblical texts, the temples were built on Mount Moriah, the site where Abraham nearly-sacrificed his son Isaac in a moment that would define the Jewish covenant with God. The Temple Mount specifically is just one piece within a larger Jewish temple-structure.
“The Temple Mount is the trapezoid-shaped, walled-in area in the southeastern corner of the Old City of Jerusalem,” explains JVL. “The four walls surrounding it date back – at least in their lower parts – to the time of the Second Jewish Temple, built at the end of first century B.C.E.”
Today, Jews pray toward the Western Wall, an outer retaining wall of the Second Temple. Every single day, Jewish pilgrims from all over the world place hand-written messages of hope, pain, and devotion into the cracks and crevices of the Western Wall, sanctifying the holy space at the apex of Jewish history.
Ultimately, politicized hagiography can never erase physical history. Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish people. The city’s walls, destroyed by years of war, genocide, and anti-Semitic attacks, stand tall as witnesses to Jewish survival throughout the centuries. The blood of Jewish martyrs spilled by Romans, Crusaders, Islamic warriors, Ottoman Turks, British colonialists, modern Arab nation-states, and Sunni Arab Palestinians nourish the hallowed grounds beneath the city’s holy sites.
So, no, the UNESCO resolution doesn’t change a damn thing.