The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a decision calling on Israel to immediately cease all archaeological works in the Old City of Jerusalem. In particular, UNESCO, one of the UN’s most prominent and influential agencies, attacked the renovation of the Mughrabi Bridge that links the Western Wall plaza and Temple Mount.
The decision, initiated and promoted by Arab states, was adopted by consensus of the Western members of the commission. Indeed, the vote is the latest anti-Jewish initiative launched by the UN office meant to promote culture, education and science around the world. In fact, UNESCO’s robber barons are sanctifying the current global campaign aimed liquidating the legitimacy of the Israeli regime.
In 2009, UNESCO designated Jerusalem as “capital of Arab culture,” working with Palestinian Authority officials and key Arab figures to protest against what they described as “the Israeli occupation of Holy Jerusalem.” Other cities granted the title over the years were Algiers, Damascus, Cairo, Tunis, Amman, Beirut and Khartoum.
The Arabs find it difficult to convincingly portray Israel as usurper of the land as long as the world believes there is a huge connection between the people of the Bible and the land of the Bible. UNESCO is denying this connection by depicting Jewish history in the Middle East as no more than an insignificant, brief sojourn by arrogant colonizers.
UNESCO appears to deny that the Jewish people has laid its roots in Israel more than 4,000 years ago, or that 1,000 years before Christ, King David made Jerusalem the Jewish city par excellence, never entirely abandoned even in times of deadly persecution.
The City of David in Jerusalem, a major target of UNESCO’s anti-Jewish fury, is now the hottest open archaeological site in the world, with biblical artifacts, ancient burial spots and royal seals. There, UNESCO is using archeology to bash Israel and treats Israeli archeologists as nationalistic martinets.
In recent years, UNESCO increased its collaboration with ISESCO, the cultural body of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. According to ISESCO’s propaganda, the Biblical story and the Jewish temples are only fiction, Jewish monuments are Islamic treasures stolen by the Zionists, and Israeli archeological works are criminal acts against Muslims.
UNESCO’s ideology portrays the Jews as no more than invading colonizers, while the Muslims who invaded the country and ravaged it in the Seventh Century are, by some inexplicable leap, the descendants of the so called "indigenous Canaanites."
In 2010, UNESCO decided that Rachel’s Tomb and Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs are “Muslim mosques.” Western countries didn't raise any protest. UNESCO never mentioned that in addition to the famous Tomb of the biblical Patriarchs, Hebron contains also the tomb of the first judge (Otniel Ben Kenaz), the tomb of generals and confidants to Saul and David and the tombs of Ruth and Jesse, David’s great-grandmother and father. There is also no word by UNESCO about the fact that Rachel’s tomb is unanimously revered as the burial site of one of the Bible’s great women, the wife of Jacob, the Jewish blessed mother.
During the Second Intifada, UNESCO condemned Israel for “the destruction and damage caused to the cultural heritage in the Palestinian territories” as “a crime against the common cultural heritage of humanity.” However, UNESCO remained silent when a Palestinian mob destroyed Joseph’s tomb, a major Jewish religious shrine, and built a mosque on the site.
Upon the outbreak of the Second Intifada, Palestinian terrorists also attacked Rachel’s tomb, and for 41 days Jews were prevented from visiting the compound. UNESCO never condemned it. Recently, dozens of graves at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem were vandalized, the latest in a series of attacks on Judaism’s oldest cemetery, where Jews have been buried since biblical times. Again, UNESCO remained silent.
UNESCO also “boasts” a long list of decisions to boycott and isolate the Jewish State. On November 7, 1974, UNESCO voted “to withhold assistance from Israel in the fields of education, science and culture because of Israel’s persistent alteration of the historic features of Jerusalem.” On November 20, 1974 UNESCO voted also to exclude Israel from its European regional group. This anti-Jewish ostracism was not abandoned until 1978, after the United States withheld $40 million in payments from the organization in protest.
UNESCO’s war on Israel and the West continued and was so blatant that in 1984 the US, UK and others Western countries left the organization. In 1989 UNESCO made the claim that “Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem” was destroying the holy city by “acts of interference, destruction and transformation” (then-mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, expressed “deep disgust at UNESCO’s attitude.”)
In 1990, UNESCO attacked what it described as the “irreversible” changes to Jerusalem's architectural heritage resulting from Israeli “occupation.” UNESCO’s apparatchiks decried the “lost loveliness” of the city. In 1993, then-UNESCO director-general Frederico Mayor boycotted an international conference on science in Jerusalem, despite Israel’s history of scintillating enlightenment, like the highest production of scientific publications and museums per capita in the world.
In 1996, UNESCO organized a symposium on Jerusalem at the body’s Paris headquarters. But no Jewish or Israeli groups were invited. When in 1998 a UNESCO delegation visited Jerusalem, it refused to meet with Israeli officials. In the past, UNESCO also has called for “financial sanctions against Israel” and passed hundreds of resolutions criticizing Israel’s activities in Judea and Samaria.
In 2001, UNESCO promoted the “Cairo Declaration Document for Jerusalem Antiquities Preservation,” which falsely accused Israel of destroying Islamic antiquities on the Temple Mount and in Jerusalem’s Old City in an attempt to divert attention from Palestinian crimes against archeology and history. When the United Nations celebrated its 50th anniversary, UNESCO refused to mention the Shoah in its World War II resolution, intentionally ignoring Israel’s request to include a reference to the destruction of European Jewry.
During the Middle Ages, the French Inquisition confiscated and burned Maimonides's books. From the elegant Parisian boulevards, UNESCO’s inquisitors are now following the same dreadful solution of rendering history and the Holy Land "Judenrein."
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism
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