UNESCO Erases Jewish Connection to Temple Mount, Kotel

On April 15, the Executive Council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a resolution ignoring Jewish ties to the holy religious site of the Temple Mount and the Western Wall area in Jerusalem’s Old City. Ironically, this ahistorical and ridiculous vote took place a week before Passover, one of the three pilgrimage festivals when Jews in ancient Israel used to journey to the Holy Temple located on… the Temple Mount.

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism. The Temple was built, according to Jewish tradition, on the Even Hashtiya, the foundation stone upon which the world was created. This is considered the epicenter of Judaism, where the Divine Presence (Shechina) rests, where the biblical Isaac was brought for sacrifice, where the Holy of Holies and Ark of the Covenant housing the Ten Commandments once stood, and where the Temple was again rebuilt in 515 BCE before being destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. The Temple Mount is also known as Mount Moriah (Har HaMoriah), mentioned frequently in the Bible.

The Western Wall (Kotel HaMa’aravi, known simply as the Wall or Kotel) is the remnant of the outer retaining wall built by Herod to level the ground and expand the area housing the Second Jewish Temple. Its holiness derives from its proximity to the Temple site and specifically its proximity to the Western Wall of the Temple’s Holy of Holies (Kodesh Hakodashim—the inner sanctuary that housed the Ark of the Covenant–the Aron HaBrit–and where the High Priest–Kohen Gadol–alone was permitted to enter on Yom Kippur). According to Midrashic sources, the Divine Presence never departed from the Western wall of the Temple’s Holy of Holies. For the last several hundred years, Jews have prayed at Herod’s Western Wall because it was the closest accessible place to Judaism’s holiest site.

But this is meaningless to UNESCO which refers in the resolution to the Temple Mount only as “al-Aksa Mosque/al-Haram al Sharif.” The plaza area by the Western Wall is called “al-Buraq Plaza” except for two parenthetical references to the Western Wall Plaza.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have long and frequently denied the existence of the First and Second Temples and attempted to expunge any Jewish — and therefore key Christian — connections to Jerusalem’s holy sites. This historical revisionism and attempted religious suppression is an affront to Jews and Christians alike as these sites are central to both religions.

UNESCO apparently agrees with this narrative, asserting that Israel had placed “Jewish fake graves” in Muslim cemeteries. UNESCO, charged with protecting culturally significant sites, ignores the fact that, rather than protecting holy sites, Palestinian groups have been desecrating and destroying them, including Rachel’s Tomb, Joseph’s Tomb and the Church of the Nativity.

The UNESCO resolution denounced the “new cycle of violence, since October 2015, in the context of the constant aggressions by the Israeli settlers and other extremist groups against Palestinian residents including schoolchildren, and asks Israel, the Israeli authorities to prevent such aggressions.”

Yes, though Palestinian leadership has been inciting violence against Israelis and Jews, UNESCO lays the blame on Israel and does not even refer to the scores of fatalities and casualties from Palestinian terror attacks.

Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States were the six votes in opposition to the resolution. France, Spain, Sweden, and Russia were among the 33 countries that supported it.

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