Unesco vote goes south for Jews, Christians
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) board adopted what has been an extremely pro-Muslim measure by consensus in its Paris headquarters on Tuesday. A draft form of the resolution had already been approved by a commission last week.
The resolution is not expected to have a direct impact on Jerusalem itself, but it deepens the rift between Israel and the UN.
The resolution – titled “Occupied Palestine” – is the “latest of several measures at Unesco over decades that Israelis see as evidence of ingrained anti-Israel bias within the United Nations, where Israel and its allies are far outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters. Israel’s concern has mounted since Unesco states admitted ‘Palestine’ as a member in 2011,” says Stand With Israel in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Israel last week suspended its ties with Unesco over the draft resolution.
RIGHT: Israel’s ambassador to Unesco, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, said: “We won’t take part in these ugly games,” after the ratification on Tuesday
“Following the shameful decision by Unesco members to deny history and ignore thousands of years of Jewish ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, I have notified the Israel National Commission for Unesco to suspend all professional activities with the international organisation,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett stated last Friday.
Story continues below picture of Unesco’s Paris HQ
The Jewish state had already suspended its funding to Unesco when Palestinian membership was approved, along with the United States, which used to provide 22 per cent of the agency’s budget.
“We won’t negotiate and we won’t take part in these ugly games,” the Israeli ambassador to Unesco, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, told The Associated Press after the ratification on Tuesday.
“There is no place for these games in Unesco. This noble organisation was established to preserve history, not to rewrite it,” he said.
LEFT: Unesco Director-General Irina Bokova loudly expressed her personal opposition to the absurd resolution last week and received death threats for her trouble
Unesco Director-General Irina Bokova received death threats after expressing her personal opposition to the absurd resolution passed by her organisation.
It was not the first time Bokova stood on the side of historical truth. In October 2015, she issued a statement “deploring” the Palestinian proposal to have the Western Wall declared a Palestinian site.
“The protection of cultural heritage should not be taken hostage, as this undermines Unesco’s mandate and efforts,” Bokova said.
Unesco’s resolution, sponsored by several Arab countries, referred to the Temple Mount and Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest sites – only by their Muslim names and no amount of lobbying could persuade Unesco to also recognise the much older Jewish, and somewhat older Christian identities and associations with the two holy sites.
The resolution also condemned Israel as “the occupying power” for various actions taken in both places.
“We need more time and dialogue between the members of the board to reach a consensus,” Unesco Chairman Michael Worbs told French news agency AFP last Friday, hoping to have the board sit again and reconsider their provisional vote to accept it.
RIGHT: Mexico’s Jewish ambassador, Andrés Roemer was removed from his post for protesting his country’s decision to vote last Thursday. His deputy cast the vote
This after the massive backlash from Israel (which also withdrew from the body) and many US groups. SA voted in favour of the bill.
Mexico tipped the UN body’s hand by forcing a revote, but it was too little too late to stop the bill being finally passed on Tuesday.
Ben Swartz, national chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, last week said the Fed was “deeply disappointed by the … resolution that has effectively denied the well-documented historical connection that Jews and Christians share with the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Judeo-Christian connection with the holy site spans over three thousand seven hundred years, predating the founding of Islam 1 300 years ago,” he said.
“Attempting to deny Jews and Christians this connection is tantamount to the violation of their religious rights.”
- With files from AP, AFP, Reuters