“UNESCO’s ignoring the Jewish names in favor of the Muslim names.”
The United Nations agency UNESCO has given preliminary approval to a Palestinian and Jordanian-sponsored resolution that essentially ignores Jewish claims to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the two holiest sites in Judaism, in Jerusalem’s Old City.
The vote Thursday in Paris by the executive board of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was dominated by the 50 nations or more favoring the resolution or abstaining.
Only six nations opposed the resolution: the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Estonia.
A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers, headed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., had sent a strongly worded letter to the UNESCO board urging them to defeat the resolution.
“For thousands of years, Jerusalem has played a defining central role in the history and identity of the Jewish people,” the letter stated. “For Christians, Jerusalem is a seminal spiritual site. This resolution flies in the face of, among other things, science, as recent archaeological excavations, notably in the City of David, have revealed incontrovertible, physical evidence that reaffirms Jewish and Christian ties to the holy city of Jerusalem. Members of the UNESCO Executive Board should vote against this intentional campaign to deny these historical truths, rewrite the history of Jerusalem, and delegitimize Israel.”
Both Israeli and U.S. lawmakers criticized the use throughout the resolution of Muslim names for the Jerusalem holy sites. The Zionist Organization of America called it particularly sinister.
“UNESCO’s ignoring the Jewish names in favor of the Muslim names is particularly egregious and sinister in the case of the Western Wall and Rachel’s Tomb,” the organization said in a statement. “UNESCO should cease and desist from tabling pernicious and absurd, flat-earth resolutions like this one, which not only bring it into disgrace and disrepute, but help fuel anti-Israel terror and jihad.”
The resolution also takes Israel to task for archaeological digs around the Temple Mount area and in the Old City. Those digs have shed new light on historical Jewish ties to the land, which doesn’t please Muslim nations battling Israel in the United Natins.
Even UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has cautioned that such resolutions can be harmful.
“To deny or conceal any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site and runs counter to the reasons that justified its inscription in 1981,” Bokova said.
A second vote on the resolution is expected as early as next week by the 21-member UNESCO World Heritage Committee.