Contesting UNESCO's Proposal to Negate all Historic Jewish Connection to Jerusalem
In April 2016 the UN Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proposed a draft resolution, condemning and limiting, Jewish and Israeli activity in and around the site of the Temple Mount, Jerusalem. This follows a line of resolutions which completely ignore and disregard the Old City of Jerusalem as also being an ancestral holy site for the Jewish people/religion for over 3,000 years.
Key sections of the proposition condemned Israeli activity in the Old City and the access of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, and misguidedly allege that Israel is hindering Muslim and Christian access to the site. It fundamentally disregarded important facts on the ground, as well as a particularly dangerous increase in incidents of violence and incitement.
"Although these decisions are not legally binding, they considerably influence world public opinion, as in the cases of the Goldstone and Davis Reports", says Attorney Yifa Segal, ILF Director. "When comparing the reports the pattern is the same: The UN refuses to point the finger at the other parties and deliberately ignores the acts of violence and incitement, and once again bases its report on falsified information and incorrect interpretation of the law."
Later that year, in July, we saw a wave of violence that broke out around Temple Mount in Jerusalem on the 9th of Av, (July 26).
ILF Director, Yifa Segal and Shahar Azani, StandWithUs' Executive Director in New York joined forces with Mr. Carmel Shama Hacohen, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Israel to UNESCO to meet with Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO and fight the deceptive UNESCO draft resolution, erasing the 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to Jerusalem just before it was voted on.
During the meeting they officially submitted a petition, which carried the signatures of over 78,000 concerned people, representing the opinions of millions of Jews, Christians and others. The petition called upon UNESCO to recognize the irrefutable deep historic, cultural and religious connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
The draft resolution was expected to pass, as similar resolutions had, with an almost complete consensus. However, in a dramatic turn of events, Tanzania and Croatia asked that the vote be cast by secret ballot. While the resolution did unfortunately pass, it failed to receive a majority, with eight countries abstaining, two opposing, and one absent from the room. So, while the resolution may have passed it failed to get the expected consensus.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO received the delegation and the petition, making it clear she was dissatisfied with the motion, as she had already stated: "To deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site, and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list," she said. "When these divisions carry over into UNESCO, an organization dedicated to dialogue and peace, they prevent us from carrying out our mission".
Yifa Segal stressed that, "this petition reflects the views of millions of people around the world, who are unwilling to accept destructive resolutions attempting to rewrite history. Such resolutions are dangerous and undermine the very reasoning behind the existence of international organizations such as UNESCO".
Shahar Azani added, "As an educational organization, the StandWithUs community deeply understands the importance of opposing well-orchestrated lies, especially when they are manufactured within the Educational arm of the international community. We will continue to be true to our mission that education is the only road to peace."
Israel's ambassador to UNESCO stated: “The petition presents a strong moral voice, much more than the immoral Arab proposal trying to erase 3000-year-old history with ignorance and insolence...Israel would like to express its profound appreciation for the organizers of this proper and sound petition, who made their way here to send a clear message to the world: we shall all defend the Jewish connection with Jerusalem, no matter where we are around the world."